There’s no doubt that the Heat believes Bam Adebayo will soon become one of the greatest players in the NBA. After the 23-year-old center signed a max contract extension with Miami worth a minimum of $163 million in November 2020, Miami is now breaking one of their own rules to award him elite recognition.
The Heat’s official Twitter account is going hard to hype Adebayo to win Defensive Player of the Year, which is an exciting, albeit highly unprecedented move.
Miami has never pushed for individual awards. Doing so goes against everything Heat culture stands for which is the team-first mentality, always winning and losing as a unit. Therefore, it feels unsettling to see the Heat suddenly push one single player, especially after learning that the Heat’s head coach had no idea the campaign was taking place.
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“I wasn’t aware that we were doing that,” Erik Spoelstra said when asked about Adebayo’s DPOY campaign, according to Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman. “I think he should be considered, but we don’t have a major campaign for that. I think the main point about all these awards, if you win, I think a lot of that stuff gets taken care of. So we’ve got to handle that first box. We got to win.”
However, this doesn’t mean Spoelstra believes Adebayo to be unworthy of the accolades:
If you’re going to be considered the top defender in the league, you have to do special things and your team better have one of the top defenses in the league. And early on in the season, we did not. And for three months now, we’ve been building a much more consistent identity to do that. I think Bam is one of the most unique defenders in the league, can legit guard one through five, and that’s not just coach speak, that’s not fan speak, media speak. That’s legit. He can anchor a very reliable defense… He has the IQ to be able to execute multiple schemes, where it’s not just the switching scheme that people think that he is involved with. He’s able to handle more sophisticated things than just that.
The last Heat player to win DPOY was Alonzo Mourning during his 1999-2000 NBA campaign. Last season, Adebayo finished in fifth place for DPOY.
Adebayo Has a Better Shot at Winning DPOY than Jimmy Butler Winning MVP
The Heat’s official Twitter account has also been pushing Jimmy Butler for Most Valuable Player with the hashtag “JIMVP,” however, Miami’s “consistently inconsistent” season, as the five-time All-Star aptly described their season thus far, has unfortunately knocked him out from being a top MVP candidate.
As for Adebayo, NBA.com’s most recent Defensive Player Ladder has Adebayo ranked third, just behind Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons.
Butler is cheering his teammate on to grab that award. “I don’t get to vote for him for Defensive Player of the Year, so I can’t say nothing about that,” Butler said. “But I know he loves and takes the challenge of being able to guard whoever in this league. And he’s actually really good at it. I’m pretty sure somewhere in the statistics it says that he’s really good at it. But around here, we know that he’s really good at it.”
“And it’s not always he’s getting a stop or a block or something like that,” Butler continued. “It’s tough to be in a spot and help, and then close somebody out, and then be able to guard them. I think that’s what people really overlook, is how he’s everywhere for us on the defensive end of the floor, and he never complains. More than anything, he never complains and he wants that matchup.”