Steven Adams ranked 40th in NBA's Top 100 players heading into new season

Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams has again cracked the top 100 NBA players list heading into the new season but has fallen two places from the position he held last year.

Oklahoma City Thunder centre Steven Adams dunks as Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Source: Associated Press

Adams has been ranked 40th in Sports Illustrated's Top 100 NBA players for the 2020 season - two spots back from the No.38 spot he held last season. He was ranked 47th in 2017.

Adams is coming off a mixed season with the Thunder, finishing with career-highs in rebounds per game [9.5], assists per game [1.6] and steals per game [1.5] while his points per game tied his career-high of 13.9 from the previous season.

However, Adams' field goal percentage [59.5%] and free throw percentage [50.0%] were down.

Luckily for Adams, Sports Illustrated said Adams' best contributions come off the ball.

"The scoring he contributes goes beyond his 13.9 PPG, considering that Adams is near the top of the league in screen assists. Even though Adams himself has fairly pedestrian rebounding numbers, no player in the league had a more profound impact on his team’s defensive rebounding last season.

"To understand what makes Steven Adams a great player, you have to start by looking around him," the sports magazine said.

"Professional sports are rife with strongmen who force themselves into the middle of the action. Adams, who might be the strongest player in the NBA, uses his might to work the angles and shut opponents out. It can be trickier to recognise, but the denial of space is central to any winning effort.

"Controlling a game is about walling off the basket, keeping opponents off the glass, and creating space between a ball-handler and the defence. Adams makes a living—and a difference—by drawing those lines."

Adams will likely play a much larger role for the Thunder with their off-season moves which saw all stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George traded away.