MIAMI -- Ask Bam Adebayo about the evolution of his offensive game, and it’s as simple as just “shooting the ball.”
“It sounds very simple,” Adebayo said after attempting a career-high 27 shots in Tuesday’s 131-124 loss to the Bucks. “But I came into this league as a defender and, to this point, I’m taking 27 shots. So I feel like the progression has been shooting the ball.”
At the risk of complicating something simple, it’s more than just shooting the ball. It’s also where he’s taking his shots, and how he’s getting to his spots.
Bam Adebayo has never been more aggressive on offense, something that was on display as he took a career-high 27 shots in the Heat's loss to the Bucks Tuesday.
Adebayo’s shot chart Tuesday featured 23 shots in the paint, with about half of those in the restricted area. He finished with 31 points on a night that highlighted some major changes in his game.
“Be aggressive,” Adebayo said of his approach on Tuesday with Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and others out.
Last season, Adebayo developed a reliable foul line jumper to get shots over bigger centers such as Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo and he had the most productive offensive season of his career. Now, he’s added brut strength as a counter to defenders respecting his ability to make shots from the midrange.
There were several instances of this on Tuesday. In the third quarter, Adebayo pushed past Giannis, actually knocking the two-time MVP to the ground, before getting fouled by a help defender.
“You have two gladiators going at it and it’s extremely physical,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “For Bam to be able to be that aggressive in 42 minutes and defend the number one paint attacker over the last decade, and have enough energy to be able to attack and create a lot of those opportunities for our team… if he didn't attack like that we’re not getting those restricted are attempts.”
Rather than settle for foul line jumpers 15 or more feet from the basket, Adebayo jabbed and shoved his way closer to the basket, eating up space and creating more efficient looks.
After sitting two of the last three games with a left hip contusion, Adebayo was assertive from the tip while also taking most of the defensive reps against Giannis, who scored 33 points to lead the Bucks to a win.
“He was just super assertive. That’s what we really need from Bam,” Spoelstra said. “Bam was relentless all game long, and that just shows his capacity to do it on both ends.”