Basketball: Adams projected as top-16 pick

New Zealand teenager Steven Adams has been tipped by American magazine Sports Illustrated to be a first round pick in the NBA draft next month. Photo / Getty Images.
New Zealand teenager Steven Adams has been tipped by American magazine Sports Illustrated to be a first round pick in the NBA draft next month. Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand teenager Steven Adams has been tipped by American magazine Sports Illustrated to be a first round pick in the NBA draft next month.

In an NBA mock draft, Sports Illustrated projected that the Pittsburgh Freshman would go to the Boston Celtics as the 16th pick due to his 2.13m frame.

"With or without the core of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce -- two players who may not be in Boston when training camp opens -- the Celtics need size," SI.com said in their mock draft.

"Adams is a project; the consensus among executives is that he will spend most or all of next season in the D-League, where he can get used to the speed of an NBA-level game. But Adams oozes potential. At 7 feet, 254 pounds with a wingspan of 7-5 and enormous hands (9.5 inches long, 11 inches wide), Adams is a physical specimen with extraordinary athletic ability who showed nice range for a big man at the combine."

The NBA draft, which plays out on June 28, sees NBA teams select a total of 60 players from a list of college stars and international prospects.

Generally the lowest-placed sides from the previous season get the first picks, though teams can trade their draft choices to move higher up the list.

The key for Adams is being a first-round top 30 pick. That would guarantee a salary of over US$1 million (last year's final first round pick earned US$850,00 ($1.05 million).

This year's draft is noticeably short on genuine star quality which may be another point in his favour.

If it eventuates, Adams would become the first New Zealander to be drafted in the first round and the third Kiwi to feature in the NBA.

Sean Marks was the 44th pick in the 1998 draft, while Kirk Penney was not selected from the 2003 draft but played briefly for the Heat, Clippers and Spurs.

-nzherald.co.nz

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