Bam Adebayo implies Nikola Jovic could look like Michael Jordan for Serbia, wants to ‘beat his a-s’ in Olympics'
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Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo had some high praise for Nikola Jovic ahead of this year’s Olympics, but he didn’t hold back about how badly he wants to beat his Heat teammate either.

Adebayo shared how he thinks the young forward’s game will change when he plays with Serbia since he will have a bigger role than usual in the Olympics.

“I expect Niko to play like he’s never played before because one – like I said – when people go play for their countries, it’s a different ball game,” Adebayo said. “Because they become the No. 1 option, the No. 2 option. It feels like when guys go play for their countries, they become the Michael Jordans of their teams, he Kobe Bryant of their teams, the [Hakeem] Olajuwons, the Shaqs (Shaquille O’Neal), however you wanna look at it. They become that guy or the guys because there is nobody to defer to.”

That’s some major praise from Adebayo, but he still doesn’t want Team USA to lose to Jovic during this summer’s games.

“And seein’ Niko, obviously, he’s on the other team, so I wanna beat his a–, but seein’ him grow as a player and as a talent himself is gonna be incredible,” Adebayo said.

Jovic played for Serbia during the 2023 FIBA World Cup, and he averaged 10.1 points per game across eight appearances for his country. He’s gained a lot of international experience at such a young age, and getting to represent Serbia in the Olympics is likely a dream come true for the Heat forward.

While Jovic is likely to have a bigger role this summer than he does in Miami playing alongside Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, he did show some flashes of what he can do in the NBA with more touches during the 2023-24 season.

A first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Jovic saw his role with the Heat expand in his second season in the NBA.

The 21-year-old appeared in 46 games and made 38 starts. He averaged 7.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for Miami while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from beyond the arc.

He saw a major role change from his rookie season when he appeared in just 15 games for the Heat.

Miami is hoping that Jovic can continue to develop this offseason, and playing a major role in the Olympics could help him improve some of his skills as a scorer.

The Heat are in danger of losing Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith this offseason in free agency, so Jovic could have an even bigger responsibility in Miami in the 2024-25 season.

Hopefully, he and Adebayo will get a chance to square off in a game in this summer’s Olympics.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.