Adebayo’s latest game, Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks, saw the seventh-year center set a career high with 27 field-goal attempts, along with season highs in points and minutes. The two-time All-Star did this against an interior defense spearheaded by 2022/23 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Brook Lopez and five-time All-Defensive Team selection Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“He was just super assertive,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Adebayo. “That’s what we need from Bam. He was really aggressive getting into the paint, creating those paint opportunities that normally Jimmy is so great at for us. Now we have a lot of guys with that ability to do that. But Bam was relentless all game long and that just shows you his capacity to do it on both ends.”
Adebayo is currently averaging career highs of 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in addition to his 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. His play has him under consideration for his third All-Star Game as well as for Defensive Player of the Year and/or an All-NBA selection.
As Chiang observes, being named Defensive Player of the Year or being selected to an All-NBA Team would make Adebayo eligible to sign a four-year super-max extension this upcoming offseason. His teammates have been vocal about Adebayo’s continued evolution.
“I think he should be a lock for All-NBA this year,” Richardson said. “He’s really been carrying a lot of the load for us this year.”
We have more from the Heat:
- Center Thomas Bryant was signed over the offseason to help stabilize the Heat’s non-Adebayo minutes, but he has fallen out of the rotation as Kevin Love has produced positive minutes in that role. According to Chiang in a separate story, Bryant said it’s been an adjustment but that he’s staying ready for anything. “Everything being communicated is just staying ready, going over things that I’ve done before, just keep improving on everything and just stay with it,” Bryant said. “‘Your time is coming’ whenever it might be, so it’s always about a stay ready mind-set and just always staying ready no matter what the outcome is.“
- Forward Caleb Martin is continuing to work his way back into form after a lingering knee injury kept him out of most of the preseason and 10 straight games at one point this season, according to Chiang. After averaging 5.8 points on 30.6% shooting in his first five games back, Martin scored 22 points on Saturday against the Nets. “I want quick results, I want to just get back to my normal self, too,” Martin said. “I just know it’s going to take some time. So I accept that and figure out how to go with that.“
- With Dru Smith out for the season and Tyler Herro recovering from his own injury, Josh Richardson has adopted the Heat’s backup point guard position for the time being, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel observes. “I play with kind of both units,” Richardson said. “So with the first unit, it’s more so spacing, giving Jimmy and Bam kind of like an outlet. With the second unit, I kind of got to be a paint-touch guy. We have Duncan [Robinson] out there running around. So it’s kind of fluid. It’s one thing that I’ve got to figure out.“