For much of his NBA career, Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo has been known as a defensive dynamo. In fact, it hasn’t been until more recently that he’s started to really flourish on the offensive side of the ball.
For that reason, it might come as something of a surprise for Heat fans to learn that one former NBA executive hasn’t been all that impressed with Adebayo’s defense this season.
As The Athletic’s John Hollinger wrote about which players should make the All-Star Game as reserves, he spent a bit of time touching on Adebayo’s apparent dip defensively.
“Adebayo has to make it too,” he wrote. “People are going to whine about two Heat players when they’re in sixth in the East, but have you seen the rest of this roster? I have slight misgivings: Adebayo plays the least valuable position, his defense has not quite been at the fearsome level of the last two seasons, and his steady diet of isos into midrange pull-ups is perhaps not the most elegant offense. But this feels like the floor for him, and it’s still arguably better than anyone else available.”
While it’s clear that Hollinger thinks Adebayo is a good player and deserving of making the All-Star Game, it is interesting to see his contributions to the Heat downplayed a bit.
Adebayo has taken a leap offensively this season and is currently averaging a career-best 21.4 points per game. If he has taken a small step back on defense, perhaps it’s due to his increased responsibilities on the offensive side of the ball.
Still, he’s averaging 7.2 defensive rebounds per game to go along with 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per contest. Moreover, he remains near the very top of the league when it comes to defensive rating at 108.7.
With that in mind, that is one of the worst defensive ratings of his career, even if he is still playing at an elite level on that side of the floor.
In the end, what Adebayo is doing on the court is certainly making the Heat happy. He is focused on winning games and helping his team get back into the playoffs. At 28-23, the Heat have needed everything Adebayo has given them so far this season.