This is the ninth in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Jordan Adams of UCLA.
JORDAN ADAMS, UCLA
6-foot-5, 209 pounds
HIS STORY: In 2012, then-UCLA coach Ben Howland brought in a highly touted recruiting class of Shabazz Muhammad (drafted by Minnesota 2013), Kyle Anderson (entered 2014 draft) and Jordan Adams (entered 2014 draft). This class was supposed to put the Bruins back on the college basketball map, but they were a disappointment. They lacked cohesion, were loaded with selfishness, and lost in their first game of the 2013 NCAA Tournament by 20 points to 11th-seeded Minnesota. Howland was fired and Steve Alford took over for 2013-14. Alford’s first year was a success: Muhammad was gone, but he molded the players who were left into a team and we began to see the talents of Adams and Anderson in particular. They led UCLA to the Sweet 16, where the Bruins eventually lost to No. 1 seed Florida). In mid-April, Adams -- who put up a strong sophomore campaign, averaging 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game -- announced he would return to school, which many people thought was the smart move. There are still weaknesses in his game, and another year with Alford would be beneficial. But less than two weeks later, he reversed course and declared for the NBA draft.
HIS STRENGTHS: He’s a pure scorer. Certain players just have the ability to put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways, and Adams is one of those guys. He’s got a great mid-range game, with the ability to pull up in complete control. He can also finish at the rim with a floater or go through a defender with his strong body. That body isn't as big as it used to be, which is a good thing. His playing weight at UCLA was around 230 pounds, but he’s down to 209 now. He’s not a great natural athlete, so that extra weight wasn't helpful. This leaner version of Adams is also appealing to scouts, because in college he had conditioning issues. Hopefully, this is a sign of his commitment and focus to improve. On the defensive side of the ball, Adams has tremendous instincts. Last year, he was 7th in the nation in steal rate (per kenpom.com) with some thievery on 5 percent of his defensive possessions. In addition to good instincts and anticipation, his 6-foot-10 wingspan doesn’t hurt.
HIS WEAKNESSES: I touched on it a bit earlier: He’s not a great athlete, and this could be most evident on the defensive end. His lateral quickness is below average and he could struggle to keep guys in front of him. Offensively, he’ll have to make an adjustment and develop more counters to his offensive moves, though, given his skill set, he should be able to make that transition. The area of his offensive game that has to improve is his 3-point shooting. Last year he was a respectable 35 percent, but to be a complete player he’ll need to be better. If he doesn't improve, teams -- given his lack of an explosive first step -- will play off him and limit his ability to create for himself and his teammates.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? I like Adams’ game, and the Celtics need scorers. His Hollinger PER was 27.22 last year, which is one of the best among players entering the draft. His smooth, efficient and effective game is something the Celtics desperately need on the wing. That said, I think Adams could be a slight stretch at No. 17. There should be guys available there who rival him as a scorer but have more size and athleticism that the Celtics would like to have.
COMING ON THURSDAY: Cleanthony Early of Wichita State.