Bam Adebayo has to be better, but moving him to power forward is not the answer

Bam Adebayo has struggled over his last two games averaging 10 and 10 on less-than-ideal shooting splits. What would moving him to the four accomplish?

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat
Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Every year, some fans and pundits ask, "Why isn't Bam playing the four?" or "Why isn't this backup center playing more?" Bam, in theory, fits the Draymond Green mold. If he were the de facto roamer, he could muck up offenses more than he does now. Offensively, he could be a hub tracking down open shooters and lobbing it up to downhill running bigs.

Maybe.

Adebayo anchoring the defense as a traditional big has seen brilliant results throughout his career. Narrowing it down to this season, the Heat have the No. 4 defense since the start of February, and Adebayo gets the lion's share of the credit for that.

He's never been a typical rim protector, but his versatility amplifies his value as a defender. Instead of stymying shots at the rim, Adebayo doesn't allow shots to get there.

When switched onto wings and guards, he uses his exceptionally quick feet to slide with them and shut their water off.

Luka sees Bam as the big guarding him here. Instead of lulling him to sleep with killer crossovers, he settles for tough 3s, knowing getting by Bam isn't as easy as it is for other bigs.

These aren't next-level standout plays, but they show Bam's reputation. He's not picked on like traditional 5s in isolation.

Bam only had 14 points this game and four points on Sunday vs OKC. He simply has to be better offensively. Throwing in Orlando Robinson or Thomas Bryant with him is not the answer.

One of Miami's backup bigs could play next to Bam but they aren't ready -- and the Heat don't have time to get them ready.

Last year, it was Omer Yurtseven and Dewayne Dedmon. This year, fans are clamoring for Thomas Bryant or Orlando Robinson to play next to Bam. The idea is that these guys can space the floor and protect the rim—two areas that aren't Adebayo's strong suit.

Robinson is a fine player who has yet to showcase what he can do in pivotal spots. He's shown to be a capable rim protector in limited playing time.

According to PBPstats, opponents are shooting 58% at the rim against him. For context, here are the best rim protectors that play substantial minutes.


• Jonathan Issac - 44%
• Ivica Zubac- 48%
• Walker Kessler- 49%
• Rudy Gobert- 52%
• Victor Wembanyama- 52%

Robinson stays vertical, making it difficult for attacking guards, wings, and bigs until he's no longer vertical. His 4.9 foul percentage ranks in the 24th percentile, making it hard for Erik Spoelstra to trust him for long periods when he's foul-prone.

Thomas Bryant, on the other hand, hasn't shown many positive defensive traits. He tends to use his hands instead of his feet. When a player is attacking, instead of sliding over to contest vertically, Bryant gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar too often. Frustration builds for Bryant, and more of the same occurs.

Bryant is often out of position chasing blocks or rebounds, so teams relish the opportunity to attack him at the basket. His 74% defensive rim FG% indicates he's not the rim-protector his size suggests he should be.

Offensively, Robinson has potential as a floor-spacing big who can play next to Adebayo. He's shooting 50% on 14 attempts. His stroke is effortless. There's no hitch in his jumper. He very well may end up being a stretch big throughout his career. With the low volume, teams are still doubling off him, daring him to shoot.

He'll need more reps to build up his reputation as a viable threat from deep, but Miami doesn't have time for that experiment. It's March, and we're approaching winning time.

Bryant hasn't been the shooter the Heat hoped they would get when they snagged him in free agency. He's a career 36% 3PT shooter on 1.3 attempts. His volume is low, but he was still a threat. This season, he's missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

His 10.2 minutes per game is his lowest output since his rookie season. He can't find a rhythm with limited minutes. Conversely, Spoelstra can only trust him with a few minutes due to his defensive struggles (minus-9.9 with him on the floor).

Moving Bam to the four isn't a bad idea, but the Heat don't have the personnel to do that today.

Nobody on the roster can replicate what Bam can do. He's a good, not great, rim protector, a nightmare on the wing, a scoring isolation threat, a top-tier rim roller, and a Tasmanian devil rebounder.

He's averaging 10 points and 10 boards on 26% shooting over the last two games. He has to be better. Everything starts with him.

Kevin Love (ruled out for Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards) eventually returning from his heel injury will smooth things out, as he's been the best backup big this season. He's not getting left open, whether he's hitting shots or not.

Fans wanting Adebayo to be a roaming four aren't necessarily wrong. If this roster had Kristaps Porzingis or Myles Turner, I'd be all for moving Bam to that role.

That guy is not on this roster. The Heat are working with what they have. Look for Bam to bounce back vs the struggling, scrappy divisional foe Wizards.

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