It's draft day in case you didn't have it marked on your calendar. And while he won't be the top pick, all eyes are on former Pitt center Steven Adams. And for those watching the draft, those eyes will literally be on him as he is one of 13 players that will show up in the famous/infamous Green Room.
Just don't rock the Tim Thomas special all white suit, Steve, and you'll be fine.
We've been charting Adams' situation since the season ended. And in case you missed them, here's the NBA preview Q&A I did on Adams with the Atlanta Hawks' official blog and a primer for SB Nation.
The move has paid off and Adams was immediately projected as a first-rounder. He later moved up some more on a few boards and his stock rose again with a strong Combine performance. So began his countrywide tour, working out for a ton of teams including the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, and the Philadelphia 76ers. You can add the Sacramento Kings and also the Portland Trailblazers to the list of teams he also worked out for. Oh yeah, and the Phoenix Suns, too.
Despite heavy criticism from those who have watched approximately three quarters of an NBA game in their entire lives, it really wasn't a bad decision. Adams isn't ready for the league, as I wrote here, comparing him to Tiago Splitter - no one will argue that. But the draft, as I've said for years on this blog, is about potential. Athletic 7-footer than can run the court, play defense, and block shots? Yeah, safe to say there's a market for that. He's got flaws now - lots of them. But his upside is through the roof. That doesn't mean he'll turn into a superstar, only that he has the chance to become one.
Adams has gone from projected in the mid to late first round all the way up to probable lottery pick. Here's a great list of projections of major sites - all except one slot Adams in the top 12. SB Nation's own Ridiculous Upside wasn't as high on Adams, though, placing him at 21st late last week.
For his part, Adams says he won't star in the league right away, but that he will dominate in certain areas of the game:
"I'm a high-energy guy, running the lane," Adams said when asked how he'll be able to succeed as an NBA player. "I like transition, running up and down (the court), stuff like that, also just being physical. I'm working on my post game now, so that's eventually going to come around. I don't think I'll go out and straight-away dominate, but I will dominate certain tasks that they put me up to."
We'll see about that. I think Adams will be able to play quality defense right away, but I'm not sure he'll dominate anything immediately. He could find that even tasks to which he's well accustomed, such as rebounding, all entirely different in the league. In college, there were nights when Adams played against 7-footers on rare occasions. In the NBA, it'll be that way every single game. The players in the pros are also far more aggressive than much of the competition Adams has faced thus far. That's not to call out his ability, and for the record, I do think Adams will have a long career in the league. But we'll have to see how much of it comes easily to him in his first year.
As always, there's plenty of skepticism. And guess what - there should be. Adams has the upside and all of the raw skills, but as we saw at Pitt last year, he's still got a ways to go.
But ready or not, Adams will soon reach his goal of being drafted by an NBA team.