New Orleans Pelicans: Steven Adams is still vital for the Pels

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New Orleans Pelicans, Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams

Wayne Ellington #8 of the Detroit Pistons passes as Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Lonzo Ball (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Steven Adams returned from a two-game layoff just in time for the New Orleans Pelicans’ comeback win over the Detroit Pistons.

The Kiwi center was back in the fold to play a crucial part in the Pels’ 118-128 win over Dwane Casey’s squad. Adams maybe wasn’t explicitly missed while he was away from the court because of a right ankle injury, but his presence is always a boon for New Orleans. The Pelicans completed the largest comeback in franchise history against the Boston Celtics without Adams; yet, they might not have continued riding their high against the Pistons had he not been on the court.

Adams played over 30 minutes against Detroit, only missing one his eight shots and finishing with 10 points, 15 rebounds (six of which were offensive boards), three assists, two blocks, and one steal. The little things that Adams contributes don’t always show up on that stat sheet, but in this case, he stuffed it. He wanted to make a statement in his comeback game.

Willy Hernangómez has done well in recent weeks to carve out a role as Adams’ backup and, in his absence, play as a starter. But the Spanish big doesn’t bring all of the same skills to the table that his New Zealand counterpart embodies. To start, Adams is a much better pick-and-roll partner for the Pelicans’ creators.

Adams’ first two buckets of the game came on dives to the rim and assists from Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, respectively. Involving Adams in high pick-and-roll action has been a staple of Stan Van Gundy’s offense. The Pels’ center is a very good screener and a savvy roller, biding his time, knowing when to make his steps choppy or broad, and blessed with solid hands that allow him to finish at the rim.

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