NBA legend Charles Barkley praises "underrated" Kiwi basketball star Steven Adams

NBA legend Charles Barkley has heaped serious praise on Kiwi basketball star Steven Adams.

The in-form Oklahoma City Thunder centre starred in his sides 113-92 shock win over the high-flying Houston Rockets on Friday.

Adams sunk 15 points and pulled in eight rebounds to continue a stellar run that has the charismatic Kiwi averaging a career-high 12 and 12 for the season.

Speaking post-game as part of TNT's basketball panel, Barkley hailed Adams for his no thrills approach.

"I think [Utah Jazz centre] Rudy Gobert and Steven Adams are the two most underrated players in the NBA," Barkley said.

Adams has been subject to trade rumours this season with many pundits predicting a tough season for OKC following the departures of Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

But Adams and veteran guard Chris Paul have led the Thunder to a 22-16 record, winning 18 of their last 20 games.

The Thunder are now destined for playoff basketball, but Barkley believes they should cash in on Adams and his growing value as an elite NBA centre.

"It's going to be very interesting with the trade deadline coming up," Barkley noted.

"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."

"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 is thought to be on the radar of Eastern Conference contenders the Boston Celtics, but he is still owed US$52million in salary over the next two seasons, which could be a deterrent to his suitors.