Steven Adams has carved out a niche like few others in today's NBA.
Now in his ninth season and playing for his third team, the 28-year-old centre continues to prove that the traditional big man still has a place in the league.
While he has developed a deft touch around the hoop and the restricted area, scoring has never been high on the list of Adams' responsibilities – and that remains the case in his role with the surging Memphis Grizzlies.
Through 37 games this season, the Grizzlies hold a 23-14 record to sit fourth in the Western Conference standings. In what is becoming an increasingly rare feat this season with so many players being forced to miss time due to Covid-19, Adams is yet to miss a game for the Grizzlies – with just he and second-year guard Desmond Bane having played all 37 games for the team this season.
One of the top 10 teams in offensive rating, Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said Adams' influence has been an important part of what the team has been able to achieve.
"That was something we talked about when we acquired [Adams] in the summer and got to know him a little bit, studied the film, got him in early in the preseason, as he was building chemistry with his teammates," Jenkins explained to media last month.
In a league where being able to shoot the ball from both inside and outside the three-point arc has become almost a must for big men, the Kiwi centre is bucking the trend by backing his physicality to impact the game.
Adams, who Memphis acquired in a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans before the season got underway, is only putting up five shots and averaging 7.1 points per game so far this season – his lowest marks since his rookie campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder – but his screen play, passing game and offensive rebounding has been an asset to the side.
Adams ranks second overall in screen assists – setting a screen for a teammate that directly leads to a made field goal by said teammate – with 189, while he has pulled down the most offensive rebounds in the league, with his 155 being 14 more than the next closest player.
He has also been making life hard for opponents on the glass, putting his strength to good use and counting the second-most box outs in the league (126), while he is averaging a career-high 2.9 assists per game and is collecting rebounds at a rate well above his career average.
"Obviously he's an elite screener," Jenkins said. "It frees up ball-handlers, the rolling ability. But the passing ability, the dribble hand-off ability, he's just getting comfortable in our system.
"We try not to box anyone in or give them too much to do. We say just go out there and play. Here are the actions we're trying to play out of, you make the right reads. More often than not he's making the right read.
"I think it took him a little time to really get comfortable with his teammates. As teams are pressuring us, he's always making the right read, whether it's setting a screen, getting out and slipping, or finding late passes. So, it definitely diversifies our offence."