Why Steven Adams is all-in as Stan Van Gundy bucks the NBA trend

Adams jokes about 'old school' Van Gundy (1:11)

Steven Adams shares his impressions of playing for Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy since arriving in New Orleans. (1:11)

At a time when the NBA is getting faster and faster, with a growing emphasis on three-point shooting and small-ball basketball, the New Orleans Pelicans decided to go slightly against the grain and opt big. Very big.

Already with Zion Williamson as the future of the franchise, the Pelicans decided to make a trade for Steven Adams, who quickly signed a two-year extension with his new team.

All of a sudden, the Pelicans boasted the heaviest frontcourt in the NBA, with Stan Van Gundy gifted a pair of bruisers - the Kiwi seven-footer joining the 130kg+ athletic freak in Williamson.

Hear more from Steven Adams on Ball and the Real World the new ESPN podcast with Olgun Uluc

"It's what you'd consider old school," Adams tells ESPN. "They've been doing it since they first started playing basketball, right? Just two big guys in there. It's not seen in today's basketball as much, but it does put a little bit of a different look for other teams; gives them a bit of problems in certain areas.

"In terms of just me and him, chemistry-wise, it's something that ... we still have to find better connection, which we've been progressing really well, I think over the games."

Adams is widely regarded as one of the toughest players in the NBA, so it's no surprise that he's embracing that brand of basketball. It's unusual for a player to sign an extension with a new team when the decision to be dealt there wasn't his, but Adams had faith in the direction of the franchise and the potential of its young players.

Around the time he was traded, Adams also mentioned that "old school" style Van Gundy fosters, and the big-man has felt the sentiment during the early portions of the season.

"Just to make sure: when I said Stan Van Gundy's old school, I just meant that he's old," Adams joked.

"He's capable of coaching in today's era; it's not like he doesn't wanna change his way of thinking. Hopefully he doesn't hear that.

"In terms of expectations, I don't really have expectation coming in; I like to operate like that anyway. So far, man, it's been awesome. He's been very honest, up-front, very hard, puts a lot of pressure, high standards. It's realistic, if that makes sense; a lot of the standards. That's all you can really ask for so far, as much as I can tell you, to be honest."

Adams elaborated on Van Gundy's "realistic" approach: "It's all the defining of roles for each player, telling them straight up what you should be doing for the team in order for team success. A lot of stuff comes into it, man, which does get overlooked."

The Pelicans have new pieces that are slowly finding their niche on the team, but something that seems set in stone, and already appears to be thriving, is the frontcourt duo of Adams and Williamson. We've seen the pair link up on numerous plays -- whether it's high-low action, drives and dishes, or either working out of the low post -- and their chemistry appears to be growing over the course of the young season.

Having Williamson, along with a host of other offensive talent, to work with has given Adams more of an opportunity to show off his passing game, with the 27-year-old averaging a career-high 2.8 assists per game, on top of 10.1 points and 9.0 rebounds a contest. Adams also managed to post his first career triple-double in the beginning of January, exhibiting an impressive level of growth as he slowly enters the prime of his career.

Williamson has been the beneficiary of a lot of that Adams distribution, and the native of New Zealand was always confident in the connection he'd build with the Pelicans' young star.

"It's not surprising at all," Adams said of his chemistry with Williamson.

"It's to be expected. It'd be surprising if we didn't get along; if you're not building any sort of chemistry, that'd be weird. There's the normal process for the NBA, right? We're under pressure to make sure that we play together... as one. That sounds special."