Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, last season’s winner of the award, recently responded to that claim during an appearance on ESPN’s “NBA Today.”
"Me and Bam both know that's a lie."
Marcus Smart had some HEAT for Bam Adebayo about last year's DPOY 🔥
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 1, 2023
Adebayo finished fourth in voting for the award last season, and he finished in the same spot the season before. Despite being one of the few players in the league that can defend all five positions at an elite level, the University of Kentucky big man doesn’t seem to always get the respect he deserves.
The former No. 14 overall pick is recording 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game this season. His blocks per game would undoubtedly be higher if he didn’t spend so much time out defending on the perimeter due to the Heat’s constant switching.
He’s also fourth in the league in defensive win shares with 3.3. He seems to be on pace to surpass his career-high of 3.9 in that category.
It would be shocking if he were to be left off of an All-Defensive team this season. The New Jersey native already has three All-Defensive team selections to his name.
Getting that recognition is certainly a nice feeling, but Adebayo surely wants to become the second player in Heat history to be named Defensive Player of the Year. Alonzo Mourning won the award in back-to-back seasons over 20 years ago.
While Adebayo is having arguably the best season of his career, the Heat have been struggling. The team is just 4-6 over its last 10 games and can’t seem to sustain any type of momentum.
After securing a nice road win on Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami hosted the 76ers at Miami-Dade Arena on Wednesday. Philly was without Joel Embiid for the contest, but that didn’t matter as it steamrolled Miami in a 119-96 blowout.
The Heat seem destined to end up in the play-in tournament at this point, as they are 1.5 games behind the No. 6 seed Brooklyn Nets. Miami’s next contest is a big one, as it is set to host the No. 5 seed New York Knicks.