Vipers' Forward Jeff Adrien Builds Relationships and Uses Familiarity To Get NBA Gig

Stephen Dunn

After playing for the Rockets' NBADL affiliate in 2010-11, Jeff Adrien enjoyed a stint in Houston last season. Though he re-joined the Vipers later on, the forward has once again made it back to the NBA---this time, with the Charlotte Bobcats, where he spent training camp this fall.

During the 2010-11 season, former UConn big man Jeff Adrien used the D-League to better showcase his talents and secure an NBA gig.

After averaging 19.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game, Adrien not only went on to win the 2011 D-League Impact Player of the Year award, but also caught the eye of the Golden State Warriors.

Spending a decent part of the season in Golden State, Adrien appeared in 23 contests for the Warriors. What's more, his separate efforts in the NBADL that same season warranted him a selection to the league's All-NBADL Second Team.

Between his success in both leagues, the forward was hoping to only build upon it the following year. Despite the NBA lockout getting in his way a bit, Adrien returned from playing overseas in time to join the Houston Rockets. Such a signing also happened to reunite him with former college teammate Hasheem Thabeet. It's also worth noting that while Adrien stole the show in the NBADL the season prior, he did so while playing for the Rockets' affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Adrien went on to play sparingly for Houston. He appeared in just eight contest during what was less than a two month span before being waived. That said, the forward played well in limited minutes, shooting 44% from the field. Although he failed to stay with the team for the long haul, it's obvious the Rockets liked what they saw from Adrien after being able to monitor him closely with the Vipers.

With two NBA stints under his belt, Adrien signed with the Charlotte Bobcats for training camp this past fall. At just 26 years old, the physical forward seemed to fit right in with the personnel, as well as the gritty effort the Bobcats would need to put forth to get respect in The Association.

But the UConn alum was once again let go before the 2012-13 season began. It's difficult to figure out why a player like Adrien hasn't been able to stick with a squad to date. At just 6'7, Adrien plays like a rugged center at times, able to matchup with and muscle his way around an array of opponents.

On offense, he shoots well and uses his strength to make things easier for him inside. On defense, Adrien is utterly fearless. The forward has quick hands and also enjoys using his longer wingspan to pester opposing players inside when they go up for a shot. His ability to play taller and well above his means certainly garners similarities to a player like Chuck Hayes, which explains why a team like the Rockets took a quick liking to him.

And that would also explain why when the Bobcats didn't keep Adrien in the fold, the Rockets' NBADL snatched him right back up again. Adrien rejoined the Vipers last month, and has once again started to turn heads. The forward has averaged 17.6 points (on 56% from the field), 11.2 boards, and 1.8 blocks through Rio Grande Valley's first five contests.

Apparently Adrien's early season efforts were enough to help Charlotte recognize the quality player they let go last month. The Bobcats signed Adrien yet again on Sunday afternoon, making him just the fourth Gatorade Call-Up of the season.

Between the Rockets and Bobcats, the big man has clearly impressed. His call-up further proves that the relationship between the NBA and the D-League works quite well, undoubtedly serving a purpose. The Rockets have certainly been able to keep closer tabs on him as they wait for a roster spot to open up one way or another.

Ironically enough, however, the platform Houston provide Adrien to shine on made it possible for the Bobcats to get another look at him too. Only time will tell if the versatile forward will find a steady home in Charlotte, or if the Vipers will be fortunate enough to snatch him back up again at some point soon.

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