While no one is doubting Jimmy Butler’s talent, there’s heavy speculation that the Heat gave Bam Adebayo a max contract way too soon, and that their early investment in the 23-year-old center is turning out to be a bust.
In Bleacher Report‘s “Next-Gen NBA: Grading Playoffs’ Top 23-and-Under Stars so Far,” reporter Mo Dakhil gave Adebayo a C+ — but the less than average grade came with a major caveat.
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While Adebayo’s lack of aggression on the court has been called out by NBA analysts and even his own teammates, Dakhil said it would be a big “mistake” to “jump off the Adebayo bandwagon.” The 6-foot-9 center “has all the talent to be a building block for the Heat.”
“In the bubble playoffs, Adebayo averaged 17.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and shot 56.4 percent from the field,” Dakhil wrote. “This season the numbers dipped a bit, averaging 15.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 45.6 percent. In the regular season, he was the most consistent player for the Heat. He averaged a career-high 18.7 points to go with nine rebounds and 5.4 assists, while shooting 57 percent from the field.”
As for the lackluster playoff run, “The Heat ran into a buzzsaw with the Bucks, but Adebayo’s future is bright and will be for years to come.”
Adebayo Is ‘Not Nearly a Finished Product’
Before the Heat lost Game 4 on May 29, Bleacher Report called out Butler and Adebayo in Dan Favale’s “Biggest Surprises and Disappointments 1 Week into NBA Playoffs.”
Favale wrote, “What’s actually transpired for the Heat verges on unimaginable. They trail the Bucks 3-0, the equivalent of a playoff death sentence… Less predictable, and more unsettling, are the performances from their two superstars.”
While Butler was criticized for “shooting just 42.9 percent at the basket (6-of-14), down from 67.4 percent during the regular season,” Adebayo was called out for his lackluster performance on both offense and defense.
“Bam Adebayo looks even more out of sorts,” Favale wrote. “His attack mode continues to come and go, and he has not generated the same number of quality opportunities. Just 27.5 percent of his looks are coming at the basket, a far cry from his 41.9 percent share in the regular season. He is 1-of-7 (16.7 percent) on twos outside the paint and 10-of-29 overall (34.5 percent) on twos outside the restricted area.”
South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman also graded Adebayo’s performance this season. He gave him a B+.
“Like Butler, Adebayo had a season worthy of All-NBA and All-Defensive consideration,” Winderman wrote. “The difference is that Adebayo was not able to singularly lift the Heat nearly as often as Butler, as offensive limitations surfaced.”
While Adebayo is “a franchise mainstay… he’s not nearly a finished product.”