October started right for Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams, as he signed a two-year contract extension of slightly over $25 Million on October 1st. He has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ success since he came to them in a three-team trade in August of last year. The trade paid off, as Adams averaged 10 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 6.9 PPG over 76 games in the 2021-22 season. But, Steven Adams means more to the Grizzlies in different aspects other than those.
Adams brought something to Memphis that the team needed: veteran leadership. Though he’s only a few years older than his teammates, he’s been pivotal in the Grizzlies' transformation into the young, powerful team they are today. Adams, outside of Danny Green, will be the only player that is either 30 or older than 30 on the roster next season. Being in the league for nine years, He is the selfless leader that the team needed.
A perfect example of this was in the 2022 Playoff series in the first round against the Timberwolves. Adams's play style simply didn’t fit with how the Wolves worked. Knowing he was hurting the team more than helping, he sat out and let other players who could contribute to the team play. Even though he sat he was at every game coaching the younger guys, guiding them, and correcting their wrongs throughout the entire series. Call him Coach Adams, because he was more of a coach for the entire first round of the Western Playoffs.
Adams brings other qualities to the team on the court as well. He’s at his best in setting hard screens for fellow teammates such as Ja Morant. At 6’11” and 250 pounds, he is graceful on his feet. When he sets screens not only does he give operating room on the perimeter, he has a stunning understanding of where each player needs the ball on the court to be the most efficient in the offense.
Being extremely detail-oriented is also something that Adams has in his skill set. Adams can seek and point out virtually any flaw taking place in his team while he’s on the court and he isn’t afraid to correct it. Adams can also initiate and light a fire under the offense with a simple pass. He is one of the most connective passers on the team. He knows each player’s setup and favorite spot on the court, just proving how efficient he is at setting the tone for the offense.
Rebounding is another strong suit for him. Last season, Adams was ranked in the top for his rebounds. His average of 4.6 rebounds per game put the Grizzlies at the top of the league in that category. To add fuel to the fire, Sports Illustrated named pointed to him as being the undisputed strongest player in the NBA. Adams is the ultimate protector of the Grizzlies, literally lifting players from the opposite team with ease to prevent altercations with his team.
Heat forward Duncan Robinson described on his podcast, Adams’s strength is largely a source of agreement around the league saying “There’s a unanimous No. 1. That’s Steven Adams,” Robinson said when asked about the strongest players in the sport. “He is massive. Incredibly strong and knows it. And he’s a terror, particularly on the offensive glass.” Nothing like having a great veteran that just so happens to also be a built-in bodyguard.
Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman made a fantastic choice for his young, thriving team when he chose to lock down possibly one of the best centers in the NBA for the next few years. Adams will be a stable puzzle piece for a young, learning, and hungry Grizzlies team — a piece that every team needs, and the Grizzlies are simply blessed to have one of the best.