Star Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo fired off a strong message to the rest of the league on January 6. During a recent discussion with NBA.com’s Mark Medina, Adebayo made the bold claim that he is the best defender in the league.
“I feel like I’m the best defender in the league. I can guard one through five and I can guard anybody on the court,” the 25-year-old explained to Medina.
Over the course of his six-year NBA career, Adebayo has been selected to three NBA All-Defensive Teams. Those selections have all been over the course of the last three seasons, each being to the All-Defensive Second Team.
Adebayo has yet to earn a spot on the All-Defensive First Team, but he is consistently mentioned alongside the association’s best defenders. In the most recent NBA.com Defensive Player Ladder, which was published on December 13, the Miami center was listed amongst the league’s top 10 defenders. It’ll be interesting to see where he ranks when the January edition of the list is published.
With the former Kentucky Wildcat anchoring the defense, Miami has the eighth best defensive rating in the NBA this season at 111.2. Unfortunately for the Heat, the top 10 defense hasn’t seamlessly translated to results. Through the first half of the season they’re slotted at eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 21-19.
Miami’s mediocre record doesn’t correlate with Adebayo’s play so far this year. He’s having what could be considered the best season of his career, averaging 21.8 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Bam Adebayo Snubbed in First All-Star Voting Tally
Fans voting for the NBA All-Star Game haven’t been floored by the potential career-best season Bam Adebayo has put together in 2022-23. On January 5 the NBA shared the results from its first voting period and Adebayo was nowhere to be found amongst the top candidates.
The 26-year-old didn’t even crack the top-10 for Eastern Conference frontcourt players. The likes of Kyle Kuzma, Nic Claxton, and Jarrett Allen all tallied more votes than Adebayo. Throughout his six-year NBA career, the Kentucky alumni has been selected to just one All-Star Game.
The only member of the Heat to be voted into the top-10 of either position category was forward Jimmy Butler. Butler ranked fifth amongst forwards during the first voting period. He’s made solid contributions for Miami this season. The 33-year-old is averaging 21.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in 25 games for the Heat in 2023.
Udonis Haslem Has High Praise for Bam Adebayo
While NBA fans might not have shown a ton of appreciation for what Bam Adebayo does on a nightly basis, his teammate Udonis Haslem had some serious praise for Adebayo’s growth as both a player and a leader. Haslem explained to NBA.com’s Mark Medina just how impactful the 25-year-old has been for the Miami Heat.
“The more he talks, the less I have to do,” the 42-year-old explained to NBA.com. “He takes over the huddles. He holds guys accountable. He’s engaged. He’s building that trust and relationship with guys. That’s what you want from your best player.”
When asked about Haslem’s praise, Adebayo cited his veteran teammate as an inspiration for his leadership efforts. “His vocal leadership is what I’ve learned from with knowing what to say and when to say it,” Adebayo said.