Former NBA champion on Miami Heat: ‘All they need is a true center’

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Rasheed Wallace might’ve taken a swipe at Bam Adebayo by saying all the Miami Heat need is a “true center” to emerge from the Eastern Conference.

Adebayo may indeed profile as more of a power forward as Wallace said, but the 26-year-old is among the league’s best big men regardless of position. He is averaging 20.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game this season and has been named an NBA All-Star for the third time.

After ending a seven-game losing streak with a win against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, the Heat are 25-23 this season and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings as they pursue another NBA title.

Last season, Adebayo and the Heat were not able to overcome Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 NBA Finals. They also may have to at some point get past Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference playoffs, though Embiid is currently injured and his outlook for the rest of this season is undetermined. A matchup against Rudy Gobert and the Minnesota Timberwolves would only come in the NBA Finals, so perhaps Wallace’s concerns about that are a tad misplaced.

Otherwise, Adebayo has certainly shown he can hold his own against anyone he has been matched up against recently. In addition to currently averaging what would be his career-highs in points and rebounds per game, he is ranked highly in key defensive metrics as well. He also is one of only four NBA players who are averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game this season (Embiid, Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks are the others).

By being tabbed as a reserve for the 2024 NBA All-Star Game, Adebayo became just the sixth Heat player to earn as many as three All-Star nods, joining Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade.

Adebayo earlier this season said he would like to have a career with the Heat similar to the one Wade had with the franchise. If he continues to play like he has been – despite not being a “true center” – he would be well on his way to achieving that goal.

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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.