It’s getting harder and harder to keep off Bam Adebayo off any list of the best centers in the NBA. The 6-foot-9 overachiever has been one of the best players in the NBA after averaging 21.4 points in January, including a 41-point outburst.
The Miami Heat have found a true superstar, per head coach Erik Spoelstra, to pair with Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Adebayo’s game has improved at both ends of the court where he’s been a force on the defensive glass as well as a willing shooter in the elbow areas. He’s proving to be worth every cent of that $163 million max extension.
“Here’s my question about Bam,” Spoelstra asked reporters after Monday’s game. “If I asked you which year has he improved the most, you’d have a tough time answering that. He continues to exponentially improve every single season and as good as he was last year as an All-Star, he’s improved 10x on top of that. You’re looking at a superstar right now — and that’s a credit to his work ethic. He’s a beast and that hasn’t changed. He’s working harder now that he’s gotten a contract.”
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Finishing in the Fourth Quarter
Adebayo has worked hard to improve his mid-range jumper. The All-Star big man has been forced into a bigger role on offense with Butler and Herro out for long stretches this year. He attempted a career-high 20 field goals last Saturday, then took 19 on Monday night. The 23-year-old is shooting a career-best 60.7% from the floor this year, including a mind-blowing 85.7% from the charity stripe.
“I’m one of those guys I don’t want to take days off because I think somebody is working harder than me,” Adebayo said on Monday. “So every day of the summer I just want to get better and always build my game up. And coach wants me to be aggressive, so I’ve been being aggressive. I’ve been hitting my middies. I’ve been hitting my floaters and getting people involved, so it’s just all coming together now, and you’re starting to see me really hoop.”
There is growing talk of a new Big Three about to be unleashed in Miami once Butler and Herro return to the lineup. They already took the Heat on a magical NBA Finals run in the bubble — and, if they can all get healthy again, the sky’s the limit.
“I feel like they watching these games,” Adebayo said of Butler and Herro. “They watching me do my thing so they know I’m in a flow right now. I feel like they going to feed off my energy.”
Heat Looking for Home-Cooking in Miami
It starts with stacking up a few wins at home. The Heat return to American Airlines Arena tonight for a six-game homestand after going 1-3 on the road. The team sits in 13th place in the Eastern Conference right now with a disappointing 6-10 record.
“We just down bodies, that’s no excuse,” Adebayo said. “I feel like we could win that game [Monday night’s 98-85 loss], and for the six straight we got to get those at home, that’s how it is we at the bottom of the East right now. It don’t look right being down there so it’s on us to fix that. We got to fix that by tallying up those W’s.”
The Heat are hoping to get guard Avery Bradley (COVID-19 protocols) back tonight versus the Denver Nuggets and Herro (neck spasms) is listed as questionable. Butler (COVID-19 protocols) and center Meyers Leonard (shoulder strain) may be out another day or two.
“I told the team, they’re like a bunch of Navy Seals, just drop them into the city, regardless of what the circumstances are,” Spoelstra said. “Our guys are just going to go out there and do their job. But the most important thing is I’m seeing our team get better.”