Basketball: Adams, Jackson shine at Summer League

By Kris Shannon

The Kiwi connection at the NBA Summer League in Orlando impressed today, with Steven Adams and Cedric Jackson both leading their teams to victory. Photo / Getty Images.
The Kiwi connection at the NBA Summer League in Orlando impressed today, with Steven Adams and Cedric Jackson both leading their teams to victory. Photo / Getty Images.

The Kiwi connection at the NBA Summer League in Orlando impressed today, with Steven Adams and Cedric Jackson both leading their teams to victory.

Adams and Jackson are at the opposite ends of the NBA spectrum - one taking his first steps and the other trying to climb back - and both have something to prove in the offseason tournament.

Chosen by Oklahoma City with the No 12 overall pick in last month's NBA Draft, Adams is attempting to make a good first impression and win over a fanbase with some reservations over the talented but raw rookie.

And Jackson, the Breakers' two-time most valuable player, is one of a legion of talented basketballers attempting to play their way onto an NBA roster - akin to hopefuls at a talent show aiming for fame.

The 19-year-old New Zealander and the 27-year-old American are representative of the type of athlete found at the Summer League, where rookies, fringe players and international talent compete with one another under the watchful gaze of NBA coaches and scouts.

It's difficult to stand out in such an environment, but both Adams and Jackson made positive steps towards achieving their respective goals today.

Starting at centre for Oklahoma City against Detroit, Adams played 31 minutes and scored 11 points on four-of-five shooting from the floor. Adams added six rebounds and turned over the ball only once as the Thunder edged the Pistons 79-75.

Adams' performance was all the more impressive considering he came up against Detroit big man Andre Drummond. Another 19-year-old centre, Drummond was drafted in last year's lottery (No 9 overall) and impressed enough in his first season to warrant selection to the NBA All-Rookie second team.

Although Adams will likely spend too much time in the NBA Development league to match such achievements when next season resumes, he managed to limit Drummond to 12 points and helped lay the foundation for the Thunder to overcome a 14-point deficit.

It was Adams' second appearance in the tournament - after he began with two points, six rebounds and two blocks against Indiana on Monday - and he will hope to contribute further when Oklahoma City play Philadelphia tomorrow.

While Adams' contract is guaranteed, Jackson is facing much longer odds of cracking the NBA. Having played limited minutes for three teams in 2009/10, Jackson headed to New Zealand and led the Breakers to consecutive championships, last season winning the league MVP award.

His longstanding dream is to play once again under the bright lights of the NBA, and he has done his chances no harm while playing for the Miami Heat this week.

A day after starting at point guard against Brooklyn and recording five points and nine assists, Jackson repeated the feat and added eight rebounds as the Heat easily beat Orlando.

Jackson came close to winning a roster spot with San Antonio during last year's Summer League and form like he is currently displaying could see him go one better this time around.

- APNZ

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