OKLAHOMA CITY (NBA) - The Oklahoma City Thunder are seeing some early signs that their giant New Zealander
Steven Adams is going to develop into a solid NBA center.
After just one year of college basketball with the Pittsburgh Panthers, Adams declared for the draft and the Thunder snapped him up at No. 12.
Raw offensively, the Thunder liked the 20-year-old's' potential and chose to pass on more celebrated players, including Gonzaga standout and Canada international Kelly Olynyk
The Boston Celtics took Olynyk with the next pick.
He had 15 points and six rebounds in the Celtics' 109-81 rout of the New York Knicks on Saturday.
The 2.13m Adams has raised some eyebrows, too.
While the pre-season expectation was that Adams would spend much of this year in Tulsa in the NBDL, some now believe he has a chance to win a spot in the Thunder's rotation.
Adams looked good while playing a total of 32 minutes time in the Thunder's recent tour of Europe which saw them beat Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Philadelphia 76ers in Manchester, England.
He had a combined 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the two victories.
"I feel like I've grown a lot," Adams said.
"Like quite a bit. Big thanks to the coaches here."
Against the Sixers, Adams made three of his four shots and finished with six points four rebounds, two swats and a steal.
It's not easy making the adjustment to the NBA game, and especially on defense.
"Once I'm in the game, it's going very, very fast for me," Adams said.
"There's so much to think about.
"So I just kind of have to slow myself down and work on the defensive stuff before everything else."
Adams has impressed one of his teammates, point guard Reggie Jackson.
"He's so hungry, and he's so eager to get better that I guess you could say we (expected) him doing well," Jackson said, "Maybe not this well, but he picks up things quickly."
Head coach Scott Brooks and his assistants are pushing Adams hard in practice.
They are fully aware that he is young, and that centers often need more time to develop.
"It takes some time," Brooks said.
"He has to understand what we do on both ends of the floor. The game always seems to be faster for younger players.
"But I think what he's done the last 10 days is good to see. It's fun to see his enthusiasm, his excitement for the game."
All eyes in New Zealand will be on Adams.
It's far too early to know if the Tall Blacks will have him in their squad for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
The prospect of seeing Adams in a New Zealand jersey and doing the Haka before every game is exciting, though.