Four Memphis Grizzlies players stood in the right corner taking 3-point shots in the first practice of the 2022-23 season. Three of them had made more than 35 career 3-pointers, so it wasn't a surprise they were practicing the shot.
As John Konchar, Killian Tillie and Brandon Clarke took turns, a fourth player displayed a smooth release and had the ball falling through the net like butter rolling in a pan. The player spotted has one career made 3-pointer, which came on a one-handed halfcourt heave three seasons ago.
It was Steven Adams. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound center.
This isn’t the first offseason Adams has been spotted making 3-pointers. Oklahoma City Thunder fans can tell you they were teased with the possibly.
But there is reason to believe the talk is legitimate this time. Adams had shooting workouts that started at 5 a.m. this summer, and he’d shoot for hours. At Tuesday's practice, Adams more than held his own with his shooting group.
Steven Adams trey ball …. Bottoms👀 pic.twitter.com/9xHOqZ7iQw
— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) September 27, 2022
And the biggest reason to believe Adams could shoot a 3-pointer? He has the coach’s approval to let it fly.
“He’s definitely putting in the work over the summer,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I even told him if you’re open, shoot it. I want him to be aggressive.”
Optimism is building about the possibly, but Adams wants to keep his new weapon a secret. He wants other teams to continue to sag off when he has the ball at the top of the key, and he wants them to expect a pass.
The same thing goes for fans. So when Adams lifts his arms and flicks his wrist from behind the 3-point line, “don’t expect it,” he said.
“Just be surprised and cheer me on,” Adams added.
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There’s also a lot of room on the court inside the 3-point line where Adams rarely scored. Most of his damage came in the paint, and he was noticeably one of the team’s worst free-throw shooters last season. Adams averaged 6.9 points on 54.7% shooting. It was his lowest shooting percentage since 2014-15, his second NBA season.
After Tuesday’s practice, Adams was the last player on the floor. He stood at the free-throw line taking shot after shot. He finished last season shooting 54.3% from the line.
“He’ll pick his spots where to be aggressive,” Jenkins said. “He knows where his strengths are. The fact that he’s trying to add more to his game and he’s working from the free-throw line is really encouraging.”
Jenkins is also asking Adams to be more aggressive with establishing his presence in the paint.
In the playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Memphis often had a major size advantage when Adams returned in Game 3. Adams was guarded by smaller players and had 10 points and 15 rebounds in his first series start in Game 4. He combined for 11 points in the final two contests of the Western Conference semifinals.
The expected expansion of Adams’ offensive game could also open the floor more for Ja Morant. The All-Star point guard led the NBA in paint scoring per game while not having the best spacing.
The Morant-Adams pick-and-pop is now in play. Imagine Morant dribbling at the top of the key, Adams setting a screen and then Morant dashing to the rim while throwing a pass behind his back to a wide open Adams at the 3-point line, who knocks down a 3-pointer.
“It’s more of a holy (crap), what’s going on?,” Adams said. “Treat it like one of those.”
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams could be a 3-point threat