How Steven Adams is winning over the US

Steven Adams has made the pages of one of the most respected newspapers in the world as his profile in the US continues to grow following his incredible performance this week.

The New York Times basketball writer Benjamin Hoffman said that the recognition on Steven Adams following the Thunder's comeback win over the Warriors is well deserved.

"Adams averaged only 8 points a game this season, but in his team's upset of the Golden State Warriors, he proved he was capable of much more," wrote Hoffman after Adams' 16 points and 12 rebounds.

"The general view of him is still tied to his long hair and his reputation for being almost annoyingly aggressive.

"Adams can be hard to appreciate. Opponents have accused him of playing dirty, and as a rookie, he had a penchant for getting players to retaliate against him and earn their own ejections.

"But for the most part this season, the focus has been on his importance to his team on both ends of the floor, regardless of what a standard box score might say."

The spotlight was also on Adams for his post-game comments, where he described the Warriors' backcourt as "quick little monkeys." Hoffman says the way he handled the controversy following his unintentional racist undertones was "a nod to his newfound maturity".

"The Adams of two years ago seemed to seek out the ire of opponents; the current one realises that focusing on the game is more important," added Hoffman.

"That Adams is still starting for the Thunder demonstrates his perseverance.

"The Thunder last season traded for Enes Kanter, who thrived to the point that Oklahoma City last summer matched Portland's four-year, $70 million offer sheet for him when he was a restricted free agent."

Adams has since become more important than Kanter, who's paid $US14 million more than our Kiwi star, explains Hoffman.

"Not content to be pushed aside, Adams refocused his game and became far more efficient. With his combination of youth, size and relevance on both ends of the court, he became one of the most important cogs in the Thunder machine, even if he is being paid about $14 million less this season than Kanter, who is essentially his backup.

"The two players, who are seldom in the game together, average a combined 20.7 points and 14.8 rebounds, making the Thunder's centre rotation one of the most productive position groups in the league.

"It can sometimes be hard to see Adams's contribution to the offence, but he is an extreme case of a player who understands his role and the limits of his abilities, and he works within those constraints remarkably well."

"There is no question that Kanter has more offensive skill than Adams, but because of Adams's contributions on defense and his ability to function in the offence without the ball, the Thunder's two most efficient lineups in the regular season both featured Adams and not Kanter.

"The Thunder's most-used lineup - Durant, Serge Ibaka, Andre Roberson, Russell Westbrook and Adams - played together for 816 minutes and had a net rating of 17.8, meaning they scored 17.8 points more than they allowed per 100 possessions.

"It is an incredible statistic considering Roberson and Adams focus so little on scoring. That lineup played for 12 minutes in game one against the Warriors and managed to outscore the dominant Golden State offence, 29-21."

- Radio Sport

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