As the 2019-20 season continues, Adebayo has proven that he has the potential to be a true star in the NBA. He’s got the drive to do it as well.
In fact, he recently stated that he wants to emulate the defending Finals MVP in the sense of expanding the strengths of his game.
“You can’t just be one of those guys where the whole league knows what you are and categorizes you as that and you accept that,” Adebayo said recently. “I want to be one of those guys who expands his zone. Kind of like what Kawhi did.”
Leonard entered the NBA much like Adebayo did. He was a physical specimen coming out of San Diego State University.
While he had shown ability on the defensive side, his offensive game was raw and unproven. He ultimately became the No. 15 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
The same could have been said for Adebayo back when came into the league as the No. 14 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. While he had shown flashes at University of Kentucky, he wasn’t someone that experts considered to be a sure future star.
In Leonard’s third year in the league, he averaged 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 29.1 points per game.
So far in Adebayo’s third season, he is averaging 15.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 33.5 minutes per game.
Despite the fact that they play two entirely different positions, the similarities are evident. Beyond that, much like Leonard, Adebayo has begun to make a name for himself as one of the league’s best defenders.
There’s no telling what heights Adebayo could reach going forward, but it’s clear that he has just started to scratch the surface of his talent.
Given the comparison between the two, it’s probably worth mentioning that in Leonard’s third NBA season, he helped lead the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA Finals victory against none other than the Heat. He was named Finals MVP of that series. The following season he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year.