Jordan Adams’ Injury: What Does It Mean For UCLA?Posted by AMurawa on March 16th, 2013
As you probably know by now, on the final play of UCLA’s semifinal win over Arizona Friday night, Jordan Adams landed funky on a foot that he had already broken in high school and he broke it again. Aside from being just a terrible story for a player having a great first year, it will have a major impact on the Bruins going forward. Below, we’ll break down areas in which the injury will have an effect on UCLA’s chances in the NCAA Tournament.
Offense. First and foremost, as Adams clearly showed on Friday night with his 24-point offensive outburst, on a team whose main strength is putting points on the scoreboard, he is one of only two elite scorers on the team. While everybody knows Shabazz Muhammad, Adams is nearly his more famous classmate’s equal on the offensive end, and he scores at a more efficient clip. All year long, Adams has been a capable scorer both from long range or off the bounce and with him now out of the lineup, Ben Howland will need to lean more heavily on Muhammad, who already draws the bulk of the attention from opposing defenses. He’ll also need to find a way to get more scoring opportunities out of Kyle Anderson and the Wear twins. And sophomore guard Norman Powell, who had been the sole backcourt player coming off the bench, will likely find more opportunities as he is about to see a big boost in minutes.
Defense. The Bruins are widely regarded as an inept defensive team. But looking at the KenPom numbers, you might be surprised to see that this team, while by no means an elite defensive team, is at least in the top 60. And Adams, while a guy most well-known for his ability to put the ball in the bucket, has been a big part of that. He brings an energy defensively that Slo-Mo is unable to bring and that Muhammad has, to this point, been unwilling to bring. The most recent example of his defensive contribution came in the quarterfinal game on Thursday against Arizona State, when Howland tasked him with concentrating most of his energy on slowing Carrick Felix, a double-double machine. But against Adams’ energy, Felix managed just seven points and four boards, while Adams came away with four steals en route to a five-point UCLA win.
Depth. This is a team that has had eight scholarship players since Josh Smith and Tyler Lamb transferred out of the program. With Tony Parker only earning token minutes , the Adams injury basically means that the Bruins have a six-man rotation. And if it is indeed Powell who moves into the starting lineup, the Bruins will have no backcourt players available off of the bench. More likely, David Wear winds up in the starting lineup going forward, giving Howland one backcourt guy (Powell) and one frontcourt guy (Parker) in reserve. In other words, there is no margin for error. Foul trouble, fatigue or, god forbid, another injury could totally spike this season.
Seeding. The above three areas are guaranteed to be impacted by Adams’ injury; this one remains to be seen. Perhaps depending on UCLA’s performance today, they could get dinged when the NCAA Tournament pairings are announced. He’s not as celebrated as Muhammad, so it is possible the effect won’t be so dramatic, but if the selection committee is really going to seed this team based on their players going forward, it would be fair to drop them a couple seed lines. We’ll know how that shakes out soon enough.