George Berry: Is Steven Adams' NBA future really with New Orleans Pelicans?

OPINION: In case you've been living under a rock, Steven Adams has been playing for a new team this season - New Orleans Pelicans. 

The big Kiwi was traded back in November last year, then his contract was immediately extended by the franchise’s front office, now two years worth close to NZ$50 million. 

That's a lot of $2 mixtures from the local dairy.

The fresh start excited those who'd followed Adams’ career with great interest, especially with his previous team - Oklahoma City Thunder - in the process of rebuilding, with his services no longer required. 

New coach Stan Van Gundy sung ballads of high praise for Adams, knowing his physical presence would complement their franchise superstar with shoulders wider than the Waikato River - Zion Williamson.

"You're not ever going to punk the New Orleans Pelicans."

Spirits and hopes were high - then the season began. 

Now, well and truly into the home stretch of the regular season, the Pelicans sit 11th in the Western Conference, one spot out of the play-in tournament, where four teams will fight for the last of eight play-off spots.

If the team were to miss the playoffs, Adams would fall short for the first time in his career.

Hopes were also high for Adams' productivity to rise to an all-time high. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. 

Three-quarters of the way through the season, Adams is averaging 7.8 points per game - the lowest since his second season in the league - and just under nine rebounds. 

His averages in shots and free throws attempted, blocks and field goals are all lower this season than his entire seven years at Oklahoma City averaged out, despite playing more minutes. 

Productivity isn't as high as the Pelicans probably hoped, so why the decline? Zion Williamson.

Zion Williams
Zion Williams Photo credit: Getty

Now in his second year - first injury free - the 20-year-old has become arguably the most lethal, mobile and athletically freakish big man the league has seen since the great Shaquille O'Neal, averaging 27 points and seven rebounds a night. 

Coach Van Gundy recently used Williamson as his primary ball-handler on offence, meaning he leads the charge - kind of like a first-five in rugby. 

That leaves the rest of the line-up smaller and more agile, with the ability to shoot more three-pointers. None of that describes Adams, who isn't on the court for some of the big moments, limiting his opportunities to grow his stats across the board.

Adams and the Pelicans seem stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

The Pelicans front office has the luxury of sitting back and watching Williamson continue his run of pure dominance, and shift the team into a new style of 'run and gun' basketball -  but Adams doesn't seem to fit that mould. 

Paying Adams $25m next season could seem extravagant to the front office, knowing it could easily nab a cheaper big man to simply run up and down the court, and shoot the additional three-pointer to stretch the floor.

So with all this now digested, keep an eye on the Pelicans' off-season moves, when our lone Kiwi could yet again be on the move. 

George Berry is a Newshub sports reporter