Last year, after it became evident (to me, anyway) that former Pitt center Steven Adams had become more useful than veteran Kendrick Perkins, the case to start him this season seemed like a slam dunk. Head coach Scotty Brooks agreed and Adams has started each of the Thunder's 31 games this year.
Perkins, FWIW, is still getting his playing time. Almost as much as Adams, in fact, as he's recorded nearly 20 minutes per game to Adams' 25. But while the two are producing similar rebound-per-minute totals, Adams has been more effective on offense.
The former Pitt center is averaging 7.8 points per game to Perkins' 4.0, despite the somewhat even distribution in minutes. Adams' 7.5 rebounds per contest also lead the team ad his 1.3 blocks are second behind only block machine Serge Ibaka. In addition, his 54% field goal percentage leads the team as well, just topping Kevin Durant.
Adams is also getting better as the season has gone on. Three of his four double-doubles have come in December and this month, he is averaging nearly a full rebound more despite the fact that his minutes have actually shrunk a little.
On Christmas, Adams also had his best game of the season - a 16-point / 15-rebound effort in the Thunder's win against the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. The 15 boards were a career-high for him and when you throw in his three blocks and two steals, it was a breakout game of sorts.
Adams remains a work in progress on the offensive end. He followed up that monster game with a modest five points against Charlotte on Friday, and has scored five or fewer in more than 1/3 of the team's games this month. Part of that is due to not playing quite as much, but if Adams finds a way to get more involved on a consistent basis on the offensive end (which can be a challenge due to Russell Westbrooks' propensity to jack up more than 20 shots a game), that will lead to more playing time.
All in all, though, Adams continues to develop quite nicely for Oklahoma City.
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