ShareThis Page

Thunder select Pitt's Adams in first round of NBA Draft

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Pitt's Steven Adams shakes hands with NBA commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder as the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, 2013, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Pitt center Steven Adams (13) blocks a shot by Providence forward LaDontae Henton (23) during the first half of a game in Providence, R.I.
Getty Images
Pitt product Steven Adams shakes hands with NBA commissioner David Stern after the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Adams 12th overall in Thursday's NBA Draft.

In an NBA Draft full of surprises, starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers stunning everyone with the first overall pick, former Pitt center Steven Adams hit the lottery.

The 7-foot, 255-pound center became the first New Zealand native chosen in the first round — he represented his homeland with a jacket featuring its flag — when the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Adams with the 12th pick Thursday night at Barclays Center in New York.

“I think he's going to be a good player, just needs some time,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “He's got to develop. But he's got the tools. And at his size, being a 7-footer, strong and athletic, who can defend down in the post — he still needs to learn a lot about post defense, his positioning, getting and holding position on the block really on both ends. He needs to learn those nuances, but they don't make them that big very often.”

Adams spent only one season at Pitt, averaging 7.2 points but leading the team in rebounds (6.3), blocked shots (65) and field-goal percentage (.571). A Big East All-Rookie selection, he insisted he would return for his sophomore season but declared early for the draft after a 13-point, 11-rebound effort in the loss to Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.

Adams' stock soared after a strong showing in predraft workouts and interviews with teams. He said he had a good idea he was headed to the Thunder after visiting them.

“To a certain degree I kind of did, but it was actually more what I was hoping for,” Adams said. “Just because I fell in love with the place.”

Adams also said he was comfortable spending time next season with the team's developmental-league team in Tulsa, if that's in the Thunder's plans.

Oklahoma City hopes Adams is the perfect addition of size, as well as a long-term scoring option inside to pair with All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Adams became the fifth Pitt player chosen in the first round, the first since Vonteego Cummings went 26th to the Indiana Pacers in 1999.

Adams is the highest Panther picked by the NBA since Charles Smith went third overall to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1988.

Adams also is the first Panthers player to be a first-round pick under Jamie Dixon.

The Cavaliers, who also drafted first in 2011, started what proved to be an unsettled NBA Draft by selecting UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett. Nerlens Noel, considered to be one of the favorites to be taken first, instead fell to No. 6, where the New Orleans Pelicans took him and then dealt his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package headlined by All-Star guard Jrue Holiday, according to a person familiar with the details.

The Cavaliers passed not only on Noel but also on Maryland center Alex Len, who went to Phoenix at No. 5.

Most predictions had the Cavs taking one of the big men, with Noel largely considered the favorite even after a torn ACL that ended his lone season at Kentucky in February.

Orlando passed on both of the big men, too, going with Indiana swingman Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick. Washington took Otto Porter Jr. with the third pick, keeping the Georgetown star local.

The Associated Press contributed. Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.