The Miami Heat are arguably the hottest team in the NBA right now, having won four straight games and nine out of their last 10. And while there have been a number of factors in the surge, Bam Adebayo’s reacclimation is No. 1 with a bullet.
Particularly where the team’s incredible defensive effort is concerned.
Over the aforementioned stretch, Miami boasts the second-best front in the Association with a D-rating of 103.9 and Adebayo has been the straw that stirs the drink. Since February 3, the Heat have conceded just 95.5 points per 100 possessions when the former All-Star has been on the court, the best mark on the team.
Despite his incredible defensive effort, though, Adebayo continues to get the short end of the stick from oddsmakers as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Adebayo’s Bizarre Omission
On Tuesday, the Locked on Heat Twitter account relayed the latest DPOY odds, as compiled by BetOnline. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert continues to lead the field as a 5/8 bet.
Meanwhile, in spite of the incredible defensive impact he has made recently — as well as throughout the campaign, when he has been healthy — Adebayo was nowhere to be seen on the list. Instead, the rest of the odds shook out as follows:
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 15/4
Jaren Jackson Jr.: 11/2
Draymond Green: 13/2
Mikal Bridges: 14/1
Joel Embiid: 20/1
Evan Mobley: 33/1
Now, the easy excuse for Adebayo’s omission here is that he has played in just 37 games for Miami this season. It would make sense, too, if not for the fact that Green has only made 34 appearances for the Warriors. Moreover, players have missed significant time before and still won the award.
In 2018, Gobert took home his first DPOY trophy despite appearing in just 56 games that year. For the record, if Adebayo plays in the rest of Miami’s games, he’ll finish at 57.
With that precedent having been set so recently, it would seem that Adebayo should still be a factor in the DPOY voting so long as his résumé holds up. And his numbers to date definitely look like those of a contender for the honor.
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Adebayo’s Numbers Speak Volumes
Per the league’s tracking data, opponents’ field goal percentages drop 5.4% when Adebayo is the closest defender. That’s his overall differential — it’s similarly negative on two-point shots, three-point shots, attempts within six or 10 feet from the hoop, as well as those from 15 or more feet away from the basket.
Moreover, Bam’s defensive rating for the year is currently 102.4. In addition to being the best mark on the Heat, it’s a number that dwarfs those of Gobert (104.7), Antetokounmpo (106.1) and Jackson (106.0).
Finally, Adebayo ranks eighth league-wide in defensive box plus/minus at 2.2 and third in FiveThirtyEight’s overall defensive RAPTOR stat at 4.6.