Steven Adams is a brick wall on the basketball court.
The Oklahoma City Thunder center is immovable in the low-post and is known to deploy bone-shattering screens on the perimeter.
A recent piece by ESPN‘s Royce Young highlights Adams’ reputation as the NBA’s resident Brinks truck, with Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks dubbing him “the strongest, most physical guy in the league,” and Philadelphia 76ers star Jimmy Butler accusing Adams of being from Krypton.
Adams finds all of this quite comical, as he believes many NBA big men would best him in barbell-loaded exercises. But his play strength is a different story. To hear Adams tell it, he’s become a master at leveraging his own mass (at 265 pounds, he’s one of the heaviest players in the league) and neutralizing an opponent’s “weight room” strength around the basket.
One of Adams’ key tenants to playing big is keeping both feet on the ground and utilizing a wide base. It’s impossible to establish a strong base with one foot in the air, and the wider your base is, the more room the opponent must cover to go around you.
“Well, the thing is, like, mostly bigger stronger dudes, they tend to be slower. Especially against you, if you’re not as strong as them you definitely, probably, more than likely, will be quicker than them. So you just use your angles to your advantage to get them out further. You just have to be as big and wide as possible to make those routes that he takes take a lot longer,” Adams said during a 2017 interview.
Other players have taken note of Adams strength-sapping techniques. Phoenix Suns rookie DeAndre Ayton, who can leg press 900 pounds, clashed with Adams for the first time earlier this season. Afterwards, Ayton remarked to AZCentral that Adams has a “next level of strength” which stems in part from his ability to “get real low to the ground (and take) up a lot of space.”
Adams also says he gleams tactics from jiu-jitsu. While he’s not allowed to practice it due to the risk of injury it presents, jiu-jitsu is a sport where small changes in angles and leverage are often the difference between victory and defeat.
“I don’t think I am actually stronger than most guys. It’s weird. I understand how to move and where they’re getting their power from so I take that away. But like if it was a power match, I’d probably lose. Anything power related where they have everything they need and I’ve maxed out everything I need, I’ll probably lose,” Adams said in a 2018 interview. “I watch a lot of jiu-jitsu. Big fan of it. That’s about where your base is and where you generate power from. Kinda use that.”
Adams has been seen using body-on-body drills as part of his warm-up routine, which makes sense given the physical combat he faces during games. Combined with surprisingly nimble feet, Adams’ herculean on-court strength is powering him to new career-highs in points (15.4), rebounds (10.0), and steals (1.5) per game.
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