Grizzlies: Somehow, Steven Adams looks better than Jonas Valanciunas

Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Memphis Grizzlies
Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Memphis Grizzlies made a sacrifice this offseason when they elected to trade away Jonas Valanciunas in order to move up in the NBA Draft. This worked out, as the Grizzlies got the guy they wanted in the most recent draft, swooping into the 10th pick and taking Ziaire Williams, who had a promising debut game.

But Williams wasn’t the star of the show in the Grizzlies’ season opener — that honor went to Steven Adams. Actually, it went to Ja Morant, but I couldn’t think of a good transition.

Regardless, Adams played a great game of basketball, continuing his hot streak that began in the preseason, where he looked like one of the best players on the court at all times. His struggles in New Orleans are already starting to look like more of a testament to how bad the Pelicans’ situation was instead of how bad Adams played.

Can Steven Adams be better than former Grizzlies C Jonas Valanciunas?

One of the general assumptions tagged along with the Jonas Valanciunas-Steven Adams swap this past summer was that the Grizzlies were getting an overall downgrade. Sure, Adams was a better defender, but his 7.6 points per game were underwhelming, while he didn’t necessarily make up for it with elite rebounding or shot-blocking.

But an idea that many overlooked, and one that I’ve already mentioned today, is the concept that maybe the New Orleans Pelicans did not have a friendly system for Adams. After all, this is a guy who averaged 13.9 points per contest and nearly a double-double with the Oklahoma City Thunder just a few seasons prior.

Does it look like he can return to this form? The season opener was promising.