The 6’6 Jeff Adrien sits down next to the scorers table as he prepares himself for yet another battle against some of the largest and most athletic men in the world. While he’s a giant amongst the average man, Adrien has been labeled as an “undersized” forward since his transition from the UConn Huskies to the NBA. Yes, Adrien had a wide array of success under the tutelage of Jim Callhoun and inside the Big East but playing against the likes of the Pacers, Thunder and Heat is a much bigger monster than Providence, St.Johns or Seton Hall. The GM’s around the NBA were worried and hesitant about towards Adrien’s potential ability to fight against the monsters of the NBA as they let him go undrafted in the 2009 NBA draft despite averaging a stellar 13.3 PPG and 9.9 RPG during his senior season with the Huskies.
Four years later, Adrien seems to have finally found his true home in the basketball world after a variety of stops in Italy, Spain, NBADL, and a few cups of coffee with Golden State. As we enter the early stages of the 2013-14 season, Adrien has seemingly inserted himself into a little niche inside Charlotte’s surprisingly solid front-court. Despite his midget-like status compared to the rest of the power forwards in the league, Adrien is able to tower over those giants enough to average a Barkley-esqe 12.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. While it’s a little bit out of this world to compare Adrien to the self-proclaimed anti-role model, the 6’6 veteran crashes the boards with a similar tenacity as the NBA legend.
As you can tell from the following clip, Adrien is able to use that aforementioned tenacity to grab rebounds over men who are three to four inches taller than him. While his height has been considered a hindrance during his four year NBA career, he’s been able to rise above that to become of the most effective rebounders in this young season. With that said, Adrien’s continued solid work on the defensive end may be as impressive as his performance on the glass.
Through the first three weeks of the season, Adrien has showcased an innate ability to work as a help defender which was on display against Chicago as he compiled 4 blocks in a span of 27 minutes. While the “small sample size” tag can definitely be placed on Adrien, it’s still clear that he’s becoming that ideal high-energy player who can make a big impact in a span of 15-20 minutes per game.
While the book on Adrien isn’t close to finishing it’s final chapter, his Bobcats tale might be that great climax. On a Steve Clifford team who cherishes that high energy style of defense, Jeff Adrien is that perfect piece to fill into the fantastic defensive unit that’s currently 4th in the league in defensive rating.
The only questions that continues to linger pertaining to Adrien will be about how he’ll be able to maintain this blazing pace that he’s currently on. While it would be difficult for him to keep his Barkley-esqe rebounding run, the fact that he has acquired 20.8% of Charlotte’s total available rebounds when he’s on the court which could actually increase as his role with the team grows. With that said, the story of Jeff Adrien is one of the more brighter parts on an extremely interesting start to Charlotte’s 2013-14 season.