Basketball: Charmer Adams eyes draft top 10

By Kris Shannon

NBA expert fancies witty Kiwi's chances after youngster wins over selectors and earns exclusive invitation.

Much has been made of Steven Adams' size and athleticism, but it's his charm which could help the Kiwi climb inside the top 10 of the NBA draft.

Adams will tomorrow become the first New Zealander selected in the opening round of the draft, an honour all but guaranteed by the 19-year-old's invitation to the "green room" at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.

The room is where an exclusive group of top prospects gather to wait for NBA commissioner David Stern to call their name, and in the last two seasons the final player summoned has been chosen at No18 overall.

But, according to one expert, Adams may be taken a lot earlier than that, courtesy of a "Kiwi wit" which has won over talent evaluators.

Adams is still raw and some way from making an impact in the NBA, but, with his 2.1m body complemented by a personality just as large, he could earn up to $3 million in his rookie season.

That seemed a long way off when Adams made his college basketball debut last year, but since declaring himself eligible for the draft he has impressed team executives in interviews as much as workouts.

Chad Ford, who forecasts the draft for ESPN.com, was one of a number of analysts who believed Adams would need two or three years of college before he was ready for the demands of professional basketball.

But, as he told the Herald, Ford now believes Adams - who will be the second New Zealander drafted after Sean Marks (No44) - could be selected in the top 10.

"Steven Adams has been one of the high-risers of this draft," Ford said. "I think his range now is as high as Sacramento [Kings] at No7.

"I think the [Portland Trail Blazers] will look at him strongly at No10, and the [Philadelphia 76ers] will at No11. I think it's more probable he'll get to Oklahoma City at No12, though he may slip a spot or two below that."

Ford said the reasons for Adams' elevation were two-fold. As much as scouts were drawn in by quantifiable measurements like his 2.3m wingspan, there was also a more intangible attraction.

"He's got a body that's ready-made to be an NBA centre. If you're going to build an NBA centre, you'd build it to look a little bit like Steven Adams.

"People have loved his workouts, but they've loved his interviews and they've loved him as a person."

It certainly seems Adams hasn't let his impending wealth affect him and, according to Ford, the teenager has earned many admirers from the way he conducted himself in the rigorous pre-draft vetting process.

"This guy is hilarious," Ford said on the BS Report. "Teams were coming out of their interviews with him chuckling at the interview. He's very candid, he doesn't know this whole drill about how things are supposed to be perceived or said - he'll say just about anything.

"He absolutely charmed everyone that he went to work out with."

Of course, a player needs more than a charming personality to convince a franchise to make a multi-million dollar investment. And that's exactly what Adams will be - an investment a team will likely stash away, waiting for it to mature before reaping the dividends.

"He's a perfect candidate to go to the [NBA Development League] and play a tonne of minutes and get used to playing basketball more and more," Ford said. "I think he could be one of the steals of the draft."


Crash course

• The draft has two rounds from which 60 players are chosen. All 30 teams are allocated two picks each (some have more or fewer because of trades) to select the cream of the college and international crop.

• The first three picks are chosen by a lottery, in which the teams with the 14 worst win-loss records from the previous season have weighted odds. Following the top three, the remaining selections are distributed in a worst-to-first format, again based on win-loss totals from the last campaign.

• Last year's No1 pick (Anthony Davis to New Orleans) was given a first-year salary of $5.5 million. The No7 pick, which Chad Ford projects as Steven Adams' ceiling, was paid $3 million. The No18 pick, likely the lowest Adams could slide, still earned a rookie contract of $1.6 million.

- APNZ

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