So earlier this week, I wondered aloud about Steven Adams and the NBA Combine. Specifically, I wasn't sure if Adams would even be helped that much by it, in part because the things he does well may not be tangibly measured all that much. The one glaring hole, for sure, would be that he has no jump shot.
Hold that thought - per NBC Sports with original link from ESPN.com:
• Great note from Chad Ford at ESPN on Pitt’s Steven Adams (Insider, and a great overall read).
Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams was the big winner on Day 1. Not only did Adams look the part of a NBA center (he measured 7 feet, 250 pounds with a 7-foot-4.5 span), but he showed off some terrific athleticism and toughness on the defensive end. However, that’s not what wowed scouts. Adams showed off a surprising — no, shocking — offensive game, hitting jump shot after jump shot with a feathery touch.
"I can say I was honestly stunned," one NBA GM said. "Where did that come from? That’s not something you develop with a few weeks with a trainer. He was way more skilled than we thought. That makes a huge difference in our evaluation of him."
Fear the Sword, SB Nation's Cleveland Cavs blog, also chimes in about Adams' newfound shot:
Steven Adams looked pretty good from what we saw. His coach at Pittsburgh said that people would be surprised by how well he shot the ball. The ESPN guys mocked him for that and said that every coach or agent says we'll be surprised by how well their guy shoots. Well guess what, we were all surprised by how well Adams shot the ball.
To say that this comes as a surprise is about as big an understatement as you can make. Adams didn't display
much of any kind of a jump shot during his time at Pitt and based on the high amount of blown shots around the rim, no one could have reasonably expected that buried in his game was a mini Dell Curry.
So ... the next question is too obvious - where was this at Pitt? Beats me. But this much is clear - if Adams can now shoot a jump shot with regularity, it's not something that was developed in a few weeks as the NBA GM says in the above link. Players shoot tens of thousands of jump shots over summers hoping to improve a few percentage point during the season. There's no way that Adams suddenly developed one since the season ended. Barring an unbelievably lucky streak, this has always been there.
And if we're being honest here, if that's true, can't a little of that fall on Jamie Dixon? I'm not in the 'Fire Dixon' crowd so please, don't label me among the Dixon haters. Or even those that dislike him. He's a great coach - end of discussion. But seriously, for Pitt to not have taken advantage of this skill during the season doesn't make sense to me. If he had this skill set, it was up to the coaches to make sure he tried to use it - even if only sparingly since the whole style of play was so new to him.
Keep in mind, though, it also depends greatly on Adams' level of comfort in game situations. And we're also talking about drills here. In-game competition is far, far different. Adams looked uncomfortable plenty of times this season, and chances are he wasn't sure just how much he could step out and do some of that instead of just trying to fit within the system. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling at least a little robbed out of all of this.
And Adams, for his part, downplayed that the system was the problem in an interview at the Combine as well. He even went on to say that Dixon's been so successful that you don't just come in expecting the system to change for an individual player. Wise beyond his years, folks, and he just came across as so likeable in that interview. Definitely another intangible that will help his stock.
I don't know what to make of all of this ... so I'm moving on.
On Thursday, ESPN's Chad Ford called Adams one of the best two players that day:
Best two players I've seen at the Combine today have been Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert. Both helping themselves a lot here— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2013
Beyond the on-court action, there were also the measurements - and Adams fared well there, too.
Adams checked in at a legitimate 7'0" and 254 pounds. According to NBADraft.net, his 7'4.5" wing span was good for second among all players and his hand width was the largest at 11". The site also called him one of the winners when it came to measurements.
Scoff all you want at the measurements portion. But even if you don't personally buy into its importance, just know that it matters to scouts and teams. And the fact is that a lot of those guys check in shorter than their advertised height. Adams' measurements will certainly help him.
When you add it all up, this has done nothing but help his stock. Adams was already being projected as a solid first-rounder. His strong performance could now have him as high as the edge of the lottery.