In advance of the start of training camp on Oct. 3, AllUCanHeat is analyzing the Miami Heat player-by-player. This installment focuses on Bam Adebayo, who will be thrust into an even greater leadership role this season.
Bam Adebayo is the ideal co-star. He is an elite defender who can guard all five positions, is capable of setting up teammates on offense and cares little about individual glory.
It’s no surprise that Udonis Haslem, the Heat’s officer of culture for most of the last two decades, bestowed that responsibility upon Adebayo before he retired. Jimmy Butler, at 33, has ceded more scoring responsibility to the 26-year-old, one Pat Riley has dubbed a franchise cornerstone.
Last regular season, Adebayo averaged a career-high 20.4 points per game on 54% shooting, along with 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals. He was named to his second All-Star team in four seasons and again garnered votes for Defensive Player of the Year.
Butler was sensational in the first two rounds of Miami’s improbable Finals run but, as he slowed, Adebayo picked up his production. He ranked second on the Heat in playoff points, first in rebounds and third in assists. In Game 2 of the Finals against the Denver Nuggets, he was Miami’s best player, finishing with 21 points on 8 for 14 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals in 40 minutes to lead the Heat to their lone win of the series.
There’s no questioning whether Adebayo can be one of the best players on a championship team, but can he one day become the No. 1 option on offense?
If the Heat are able to complete a trade for Damian Lillard, he may not have to. With Lillard and Butler, Adebayo can focus on what he does best: Defending at a world-class level, setting up teammates and pressuring the rim.
Adebayo has honed his midrange game into a reliable weapon, but the Heat prefer when he drives into the paint and finishes around the basket. Adebayo has hinted at taking 3-pointers in the past (he’s attempted only 62 in his six NBA seasons). Could this be the season he starts taking them with regularity?
As Butler (and perhaps Lillard) age, Adebayo will be tasked with producing more consistently on offense while remaining the team’s anchor on defense. It may seem like a lot to ask, but those are the responsibilities of star players.
Years pro: 6
2022-23: 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 34.6 minutes per game
Contract status: In the third year of five-year, $163 million deal ($32.6 million this season)