Why Steven Adams is the secret behind Ja Morant's rise as stephen curry signed jersey psa the NBA's most improved All

NBA Getty Images Ja Morant catapulted into superstardom this season with an elec men's stephen curry jersey tric, jaw-dropping style of play that immediately transformed him into a league-wide fa

NBA Getty Images

Ja Morant catapulted into superstardom this season with an electric, jaw-dropping style of play that immediately transformed him into a league-wide fan favorite.

Anyone who witnessed the point guard's scintillating playoff debut in 2021 perhaps saw it coming. And yet doing it for a few play-in games and a single playoff series without any real pressure is one thing. Doing it for an entire season and elevating a scrappy fringe playoff team into a bonafide championship contender? That takes something truly special.

Of course, no star does ascends without help and Morant's rise coincided with the arrival of a certain big man with a long history of getting the most out of his backcourt mates.

Enter Steven Adams.

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Yes, Adams embodies the Grizzlies' Grit N Grind ethos of teams past, but the New Zealander also has a knack for being able to unlock the best out of the point guards NBA Vintage Clothinghe's played alongside. The track record speaks for itself.

Russell Westbrook transformed into a MVP as the focal point of a team anchored by Adams.

Chris Paul reignited his career in Oklahoma City on a team anchored by Adams.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander blossomed into a burgeoning young star on a team anchored by Adams.

Even Zion Williamson tapped into an unstoppable never-before-seen point guard archetype on a team — you probably know where I'm going with this — anchored by Adams.

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What started as a coincidence turned into a trend and with Morant's rise, what became a trend perhaps is something far more significant. What exactly is it about everyone's favorite gregarious, quotable, towering mountain of a man that time and again unlocks another level for his teammates?

Adams is often referred to as an old-school center, a throwback to a time when the big guys played under the basketball, rarely – if at all – ventured to the perimeter on offense, and didn't mind being the team's enforcer on the defensive side of the court. 

There's more to Adams' game than just brute force, though.

NBA Getty Images

Adams is no stranger to playing alongside the modern-day point guard — one that is just as mindful of attacking the basket as he is of setting up teammates. 

Steven Adams with Thunder and Pelicans

He played six seasons alongside Westbrook in Oklahoma City, where the duo made the playoffs five times. 

And while he didn't win it because of Adams, Westbrook's MVP in 2016-17 was certainly helped by having Adams on the squad, setting screens and creating space for Westbrook to thrive. All of those rebounds leading to Mr. Triple-Double pulling an Oscar Robertson don't happen without Adams doing the dirty work, boxing out and unselfishly clearing the path for Westbrook to grab and go.

MORE: Steven Adams embodies 'grit and grind' better than anyone

Adams has also proven to be one of the league's best passers as well, often finding the cutting, or open, man. 

It wasn't until Westbrook left via trade that Adams' qualities were recognized by the wider basketball public. When the Thunder dealt Westbrook to Houston in the summer of 2019, they got back an aging Chris Paul who battled stephen curry jersey youth xl injuries, struggled to stay on the floor and looked well past his prime.

Naturally, Adams and CP3 fit perfectly with the Point God reinvigorating his career and fini steph curry parade shirt NBA Shoes and Footwear shing in the top 10 in MVP voting for the first time in half a decade. In Adams, Paul paired with a center who matched is own no-nonsense approach on both ends and enabled him to play into what he does be NBA Pet Gear steph curry mvp jersey black st.

Beyond Paul, the Thunder also welcomed Shai Gil Rajon Rondo geous-Alexander from the Clippers in a trade for Paul George, and in his first season with the Thunder, playing alongside Adams, he almost doubled his scoring output and more than doubled his rebound averages. 

Most importantly, the duo worked in complete synch in the pick-and-roll, forming a potent weapon for coach Billy stephen curry jersey youth 10-12 golden state warriors 2022 Donovan. 

SN NBA AWARDS: MVP | Defensive Player of the Year

Neither partnership received a chance to further grow as Adams was dealt to New Orleans after just one season together and then onto the Grizzlies after just one season wi Kevin Durant th the Pelicans. 

Then it happened again in New Orleans. While Adams wasn't the best fit with power forward Zion Williamson, he did help usher in the point guard Zion Williamson experiment which took the entire league by storm.

Add it all up and there was a reason Memphis wanted to add a veteran of Adams' caliber to their squad. 

How Steven Adams unlocks Ja Morant with Grizzlies

This season, Adam's 6.9 points are his lowest offensive output since his rookie campaign, however, scoring has never seemed to be high on his list of priorities, he'd much prefer to set the table than sit down to eat himself.  

His 5.1 field goal attempts per game are his lowest since his third season in the league, but his screening, passing (career-high 3.4 assists per game), and rebounding (career-high 10 per game), have all been positive to the Grizzlies, and particularly, Morant, who is more than likely going to end up on an All-NBA team this season. 

"Obviously he's an elite screener," Grizzlies' head coach Taylor Jenkins said earlier this season. "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.

It's also no coincidence that Morant is enjoying his best statistical season with Adams manning the paint. 

Take a look at these on/off numbers for some comparison. 

With Adams on the floor creating vital space, Morant's finishing at the rim improves greatly — he averages six attempts within five feet of the basket when Adams is on the floor.

When he's off, however? That number halves to three. 

Adams ended the regular season leading the league in total box outs (290), tied for third in the league in screen assists, and his 344 offensive r warriors jersey mens curry black and gold ebounds were good for best in the league as well – more than 50 more than second-placed Mitchell Robinson. 

With Adams' general play freeing up Morant to play at his highest efficiency, the Grizzlies are primed to go deep in these playoffs. 

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