2-time Miami Heat champ believes Bam Adebayo is better defender than Anthony Davis, calls him NBA’s best 2-way big

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A former Miami Heat player is touting current star Bam Adebayo as a better defender than Anthony Davis and calling him the top two-way big in the NBA.

Norris Cole made the claim, and while he wouldn’t call Adebayo a better offensive player than Davis, he gave the Heat star plenty of love elsewhere.

“He’s the best two-way player in the league, as far as offense and defense and all around, as a big,” Cole said.

Cole – who played for the Heat for four seasons about a decade ago – praised Adebayo while explaining how he measures up to the Los Angeles Lakers star.

“Defensively I believe he is (better than Davis),” Cole said. “And he assists better, playmake better. He just don’t score better than Anthony Davis. But he shot-blocks just as good if not better. He switches and plays man-to-man defense just better.”

The former Heat guard also claimed Adebayo is a top-25 player in the league right now.

“To me, he is,” Cole said.

Adebayo just earned his third NBA All-Star Game selection. He was a first-time starter in the 2024 NBA All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. He became the first Heat player to start an All-Star Game since Dwyane Wade did so in the 2016 contest.

The 26-year-old is putting up some of the best numbers of his NBA career this season. He is averaging 20.2 points per game, which would be his second-highest mark after he averaged 20.4 points per game last season. He also is averaging what would be a career-high 10.6 rebounds per contest.

The four-time NBA All-Defensive selection also is averaging 1.1 steals and 1.0 block per game in his 45 appearances.

By way of comparison, fellow 2024 All-Star Davis is averaging 24.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.5 blocks per game in his 52 appearances. He also is a four-time NBA All-Defensive team selection.

Adebayo additionally received some high praise recently from Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard, who named the Heat big man to his hypothetical starting five while leaving out star Bucks teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Cole played 274 regular season games for the Heat during his time with them and last played in the NBA in the 2016-17 season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He won two titles with Miami.

Adebayo has helped the Heat to a 30-25 record this season that has them in seventh place in the Eastern Conference coming out of the NBA All-Star break. Miami has won six of its past eight games following a seven-game losing streak.

The Heat will carry a two-game winning streak into their meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. Meanwhile, Adebayo will continue to try to add to his possibly career-best statistics and elevate his status among the best players in the league.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.