The Miami Heat are off to a searing start, and one of the reasons is the play of their third-year big man Bam Adebayo.
The 22-year-old is making an impact on both ends of the floor. Advanced statistics have shown that he is playing at an elite level on defense so far this season. On offense, he has been valuable as a do-it-all center who can make the right read and play.
For example, in the Heat’s game versus the Detroit Pistons earlier this November, Jimmy Butler was at the post against a smaller defender while Adebayo had the ball just above the elbow. As Butler’s opponent tried to front him, he quickly made a cut towards the basket. Adebayo read the play well and lobbed the ball to Butler for an easy basket plus a foul.
Butler later praised Adebayo for his basketball IQ and for making it easier for his teammates.
“It could be as little as eye contact, a wink, a shoulder shake,” Butler said. “The game is simple. When you play with guys who are as smart as Bam, he’s going to dictate the game in a fashion that he wants to. I think it’s great to be able to play with him because, as much as I can think that I can make things easier for others, he makes it simple for everybody.”
Adebayo, on the other hand, credits it to how much time he has spent with his teammates.
“You spend so much time together, you start learning each other’s tendencies,” Adebayo said. “I know if [Butler] is on that block, and they overplay him, he’s spinning.”
Butler and Adebayo, along with the other Heat players, have been playing well together. If they continue playing like this, it would not be a surprise for the team to be one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference at the end of the season.