Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams has been given some serious praise from one of the best as the trade rumour mill begins to turn over in Oklahoma City once again.
Adams was acknowledged by NBA Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley after yesterday's decisive 113-92 win over former teammate Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets.
"I think [Utah Jazz centre] Rudy Gobert and Steven Adams are the two most underrated players in the NBA," Barkley said on TNT's Inside the NBA.
Despite the loss of all stars Westbrook and Paul George in the offseason, the Thunder have surprised many fans and critics with their performances so far this season - currently sitting seventh in the competitive Western Conference with a 22-16 record.
Part of that has been due to the team style the Thunder have adapted with their current roster, which has seen Adams averaging a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds a game for the first time in his seven-year NBA career .
Another key contributor is veteran guard and nine-time all star Chris Paul, whose leadership and experience alongside Adams has seen the new, young core of the Thunder develop a team-first culture.
However Barkley, the 1993 NBA MVP and an 11-time all star, says Oklahoma's front office could break that up, with Adams and Paul being valuable pieces on the trade market going forward.
"It's going to be very interesting with the trade deadline coming up," Barkley says.
"You've got two guys who I think could take you from being [average] to being a champion, and that's Chris Paul and Steven Adams."
Adams has spent his entire seven-year career at the Thunder, but Barkley believes Oklahoma City are at a stage where they need to look at rebuilding for the future.
"Steven Adams is unbelievable but I personally believe [Oklahoma City] have to be sellers," he says.
"Even as great as they're playing, they're the number seven seed and there's no number seven seed that's going to go deep in the playoffs in the Western Conference."
Adams' name has been thrown around the trade rumour mill for months, with teams such as Eastern Conference giants the Boston Celtics believed to be interested in his services.
However, an issue with trading for Adams is the Kiwi's big contract, with the star still owed more than $52 million combined over the next two seasons.
This season's trade deadline falls on Thursday 6 February.