Getting off to the right start can be important. For a boom or bust guy with so much mystery around him, these first impressions in front of a rabid fan base are even more key. For a Kiwi who is not used to so much scrutiny and passion that comes with college basketball, you could even say it is imperative that a guy like Steven Adams would get off on the right foot. Adams had his first crack at college basketball last night against Mount St. Mary's and was able to stand out in a good way on defense and stay out of everyone else's way on offense.
Mount St. Mary's had nobody that came close to Adams in size and its easy to be captivated by his size. He appears to be a legit 7 feet tall with long arms and a very solid base for a 19 year old kid. During the broadcast, they mentioned how every male in his family is over 6'10 and his shortest sister stands at a miscue 6'5'' - how is that for bloodlines? Adams was definitely born to play basketball and while his two older brothers are playing professionally, neither got the opportunity that Adams is getting to play at the college level. This structure can prove to be valuable for a big man.
Offensively, Adams received very few touches. He is limited to his natural abilities on this end and completely understands his limitations. I made a note that he didn't even touch the ball until nearly 4 minutes in the game - a play where he received the ball at the top of the key and quickly passed it to the closest man and racked up an easy assist. He was relegated to setting screens all game, something that he shows a good understanding of. He uses his big frame well to create space for his teammates and rolls like a gazelle to the rim. He didn't receive any passes of these screens, but I liked his ability to accelerate so quickly and his hands appear to be soft. In the post, Adams can hold his position, but was fronted most of the game and didn't make much of an effort to receive the ball down low. He had two touches all game in the post, both where he had excellent position, and was able to convert both of them. He got his other 4 points off a transition slam and a weakside putback on the glass.
The best thing about Adams is coaches get to work with a nearly empty slate on offense. He doesn't have any bad habits. He doesn't dribble for the sake of it and he doesn't bring the ball below his waist.
Defensively, Adams was able to make more of an impact. He had a few swats that might have made the home crowd feel sorry for their overmatched opponents - just effortless rejections that you knew had no chance getting by him. Adams moved well on this end and Mount St. Mary's constantly involved him in pick and roll situations, but failed to ever execute one against him. He covered the picks well, but Mount St. Mary's was also super passive in attacking him. It still remains to be seen how he fares covering screens against Big East schools although he does appear to understand how to play the screens and has a good overall understanding of where to be on defense. He's a smart player overall who does some of the small things it takes to win.
He didn't get any serious opportunities to defend the post as Mount St. Mary's had no threat to him, but upon first glance he is going to need to focus more on generating power from his legs. Adams stood straight up the entire game and didn't show much bending action at the knees. On one post defense he had, Pitt brought the double team and his big body trapped him, although he didnt attempt to make a move to tie up the opponent. Adams finished the game with zero fouls. Im not sure if the coaching staff has told him to be careful with them, but if they did, Adams has taken that to heart and avoids fouling like the plague. I'd prefer to see him be more aggressive.
Overall, Adams debut went well. Pitt has done a good job of not putting much on his shoulders and just asking him to do what he is good at. As the season develops, his game should expand and we can continue to monitor his progress.