Draft Projection: No. 11: Philadelphia 76ers
Notes: Insider Only
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: June 26 Update: Adams has come full circle. He entered the year ranked as one of the top prospects in the draft, dropped 15 spots after a shaky season and rebounded back into the lottery with stellar workouts and a reminder that his size, athletic abilities and defensive instincts can't be taught. If his jump shot starts looking as good in games as it does in workouts, he'll be in the league a long time.
Quick fact: Adams, who grabbed 2.8 offensive rebounds per game, ranked second in the Big East with a 15.2 offensive rebounding percentage.
June 25 Update: Adams also has sat at this spot since the draft combine. The Thunder are another team is notoriously tight-lipped, but what little information I can get have Steven Adams, Sergey Karasev and Kelly Olynyk on their board here. Adams has the most upside, so he's at 12, though I wouldn't be shocked if either Karasev or Olynyk went here.
June 24 Update: Adams was ranked highly at the start of the season, sunk into the 20s in my Top 100 during the season and then shot back into lottery contention after strong workouts and a great draft combine. Every team I've spoken with has been wowed by what they've seen in its gym. No one thinks he'll be a superstar -- hence he's the first person on the list not to get a rating of 9 from any team. But more teams appear to be getting on the bandwagon. Adams' draft night range is 10 to 19.
June 18 Update: The Thunder are in win-now mode, but it's unlikely whomever they draft here will be of much help next season. They have swung and missed a few times with big guys in the draft (Cole Aldrich and Byron Mullens) but could do it again for Adams. While he's miles away from contributing offensively, defensively he already has the body and instincts to be a good rebounder and shot-blocker. With time, much more might come. Russia's Sergey Karasev also is a strong possibility here.
June 10 Update: Adams has worked out for the Celtics, Jazz, Sixers and Thunder, and works out for the Timberwolves on Wednesday. All five teams make sense for Adams. The Celtics and Sixers have big holes in the middle. Also, the Jazz and Wolves could lose their starting bigs to free agency this summer, and the Thunder are looking for depth at that position. The reports on Adams coming out of each workout all have been stellar. It looks like his range is 9-16 right now.
May 28 Update: No prospect has helped himself more the past few weeks than Adams. He tested well in the drills and in the measurements. His interviews, according to multiple scouts, were also off the charts. Suddenly, Adams has moved from a risky young pick to a potential high-reward upside pick. Although no one thinks he's quite ready for the NBA, many are making the argument that he could end up being as good as Noel and Len in a few seasons.
May 20 Update: Adams' name was especially hot all weekend. His size, athletic ability, defensive skills, soft shooting touch around the basket and excellent interviews all positioned him to move into the lottery from the mid-first round. His rise parallels, to a large degree, what Illinois' Meyers Leonard did last year at the combine. All year, teams feared that Adams didn't have the skill or the mental makeup to be a lottery pick. By Friday, virtually every executive in the NBA was predicting Adams would go somewhere between No. 9 and No. 14 and that he had moved ahead of Kelly Olynyk and Gorgui Dieng on their draft boards.
May 15 Update: Adams will likely struggle in the drills section of the combine. If there was an extreme term for a player who is raw offensively, Adams would meet the description. But if he measures and shows well on the athletic testing, teams will feel comfortable taking him as a defensive project.
May 8 Update (Projected No. 19 pick, Cleveland Cavaliers via Los Angeles Lakers: Cleveland still is rebuilding, so it can afford to take a gamble. Right now, scouts feel Adams has the most upside of the young bigs left on the board. Adams has the NBA body and toughness, but he remains incredibly raw offensively. With Anderson Varejao as a mentor, it seems Adams could be a good long-term fit.
May 2 Update: Rumors are running rampant that Adams was approached by an interested team with a late-lottery to mid-first-round pick that lured him into declaring for the draft. If his workouts are limited, that will be our biggest clue that someone shut him down. While Adams clearly isn't ready for the NBA, he does possess the physical tools that could make him a terrific pick if a team is willing to wait on him. I could see a team like the Thunder, who can afford to be patient, making a move for him in the lottery.
Apr 2 Update:Adams told reporters after Pittsburgh's loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament that he had no intention of declaring for the draft. However, he reversed course and announced on Tuesday that he's in the draft. It's an interesting decision. On one hand, he's a likely first-round pick. He has NBA size and toughness and is an improving defender. On the other hand, his offensive game is still a ways away and most scouts thought he'd return to Pittsburgh for another year to improve. The learning curve from New Zealand to the NCAA was steep for Adams. The curve from the NCAA to the NBA will be even steeper. Nevertheless, someone will take a chance on him somewhere in the second half of the first round.
Mar 26 Update: Adams played one his best games of the season against Wichita State in an opening-round loss for Pittsburgh. His 13 points, 11 rebounds on 5-for-7 shooting was the best thing Pitt had going for it all night. But you can sleep easy, Pitt fans. Adams says he'll be back at Pittsburgh for his sophomore season.
Mar 13 Update: Adams struggled through an ankle injury but seemed healthy enough in the Panthers' win over DePaul on Saturday. Although Adams has plenty of NBA suitors, sources say it's likely he's going to return to Pitt for his sophomore season.
Feb 27 Update: Adams continues to be what he is: a big, athletic defensive-minded center who is finally starting to get it on the offensive end. He's a ways away, but the raw talent is tantalizing.
Jan 30 Update: Adams continues to be a major work in progress on the offensive end. But his rebounding ability alone could put him in the first-round discussion. He's likely to stay at least one more season at Pittsburgh.
Dec 31 Update: Adams got off to a very rocky start. He just looked completely overwhelmed against college competition. He still is trying to figure out what he's doing on the offensive end, but his defense has been getting better and better and a number of scouts who have seen him play recently are encouraged with his stronger play. NBA teams are always on the lookout for athletic big men who can rebound and block shots. Fab Melo, if you remember, went in the early 20s last year. If Adams continues to improve and does well in Big East play, he could make a jump back into the lottery.
Nov 30 Update: Scouts knew coming into the season that Adams was going to be a work in progress. But none of them anticipated that he'd be this raw in early action. While he still has all the characteristics of an NBA defensive stopper, he has looked completely lost on both ends of the floor. The learning curve, from New Zealand to the Big East, has been a huge one for Adams and at this point he looks years away from being ready. While he'll always sit somewhere on our Big Board because of his physical abilities, he definitely looks like he's a better candidate for the 2014 or 2015 draft than 2013.
Nov 15 Update: Adams is a tough, physical big man who is still learning the nuances of the American game. The Kiwi import is earning big minutes from Jamie Dixon right away. His defense alone might get him drafted in the lottery. If he can show some offensive game as well, he's got the talent to be a top-10 pick.
Oct 17 Update: Adams remains an enigma for most NBA scouts. He's ranked this high primarily on an eye-opening performance from the summer of 2011 at the adidas Nations camp.
Adams' strength and athleticism translate into a fierce defensive presence. His brief play in the U.S. at prep school was met with mixed reviews, and now he shows up at Pittsburgh as a huge question mark.
Can the New Zealand native make the leap to Big East basketball? He's got a pretty huge learning curve ahead of him. Will coach Jamie Dixon give him serious playing time? In the past, he's been reluctant to play top freshmen, but then again, I'm not sure he's had a prospect this good.
Everyone thinks he has the physical tools to be an NBA lottery pick some day. The question really is, will it be in 2013?
June 27 Update: Adams is a physical specimen with long arms, good mobility, soft touch, good instincts around the basket and great natural strength. When he posts up, he is difficult to move off the blocks because of his lower-body strength and his ability to get low while making and maintaining contact with his defender. Similarly, he is extremely hard to score against because he holds his ground and builds a wall to protect the basket.
His specialty at this time might be his rebounding, but he has no go-to move on offense. He could make a living setting screens and averaging double-figure rebounds. Adams is just scratching the surface of what he will become, and the New Zealand native doesn't take himself too seriously yet, but the NBA might. -- by Paul Biancardi
Mar 28 Update: Adams came over from New Zealand midseason to play for Notre Dame Prep. If he can get eligible, he's set to play for Pittsburgh in the fall. He has the size, athleticism and toughness to be a dominant player in the paint. A few scouts say that he reminds them a bit of Greg Oden back in his high school days. If Adams has a breakout season as a freshman, he's a potential top-10 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
Jan 10 Update: Adams (Rank: 21) is finally heading to the USA. Adams left New Zealand at the start of the year to attend Notre Dame Prep in Baltimore.
Adams has committed to play at Pittsburgh next year, but several sources indicate that he might consider declaring for the draft if he's projected as a lottery pick. Adams stormed onto the scene at the adidas Nations camp this past summer. He physically destroyed the competition with his defense, length, strength and athleticism. A few seasoned observers said that he reminded them of Greg Oden back during his high school days.
Adams hasn't played against great competition in New Zealand, and that might continue for the rest of the year. But NBA scouts will finally get a long look at him. If they like what they see, he has the potential to be a lottery pick.
Sept 7 Update: Mitch McGary isn't the only prep school player who could skip college and jump directly to the NBA. Adams wowed my sources at the Adidas Nations camp this summer. The 6-10 physical big man led the camp in rebounding and physically destroyed the competition he played against. His NBA body, strength, motor and willingness to attack the glass convinced virtually everyone that saw him that he's the real deal.
Adams plays high school ball in New Zealand and plans to transfer to the U.S. to play ball at Notre Dame Prep this season. He's verbally committed to play at Pittsburgh for the 2012-13 season. Given his age and the fact that he's an international player he's technically eligible for the 2012 NBA Draft. However, to this point he's given no indication that he'll declare for the draft. If he did, he'd likely be a very coveted prospect.