Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Martin, Redick, Hornets, Magic, Suggs

While Bam Adebayo is probably a long shot to be named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for this season, the Heat big man is one of the finalists for the first time in his career, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Prior to this spring, Adebayo had never finished higher than fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

“They’re actually watching games, they’re actually looking at games,” Adebayo said of the award voters. “They’re paying attention to what I do. It’s not only what shows up in the stat book.”

As Chiang writes, Adebayo blocked just 0.9 shots per game in 2023/24, well below the averages posted by fellow finalists Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama. However, he’s capable of guarding positions all over the court and has adapted his game to new personnel and new coverages with players in and out of Miami’s lineup all season long due to injuries.

“Man, I can play in any coverage,” Adebayo said. “That’s pretty much the dynamic that I have. I can play any coverage. If you want to be in drop, we can play drop. If you want me in zone, we can play zone. Blitz, switching, being able to be on the one or two option, being able to be the help guy. I’ve been in many different roles throughout my career.”

“What it shows you is that he’s becoming a defensive technician,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of his defensive anchor. “That’s a different level of expertise.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays, Spoelstra and the Heat downplayed the outside reactions that Caleb Martin‘s hard foul on Jayson Tatum in Game 1 of their series elicited, particularly from Celtics analyst Brian Scalabrine, who called it a “dirty play” that warranted a suspension. “It was an irrational assessment in our view in what actually happened,” Spoelstra said. “The players are fine. All the outside noise or anything like that is not going to decide this series or the game. This is good, clean, tough, physical playoff basketball — and it always has been with Boston and us.”
  • ESPN analyst and former NBA sharpshooter J.J. Redick is a “serious candidate” for the Hornets‘ head coaching job, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link). According to Charania, Redick has a “strong desire” to move into coaching and could end up interviewing for more jobs besides Charlotte’s this spring.
  • While the Magic‘s long-term outlook remains very promising, the weaknesses of their young roster have been exposed in the first two playoff games against Cleveland, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who cites inexperience and a lack of shooting and play-making as shortcomings for Orlando. “Our defense is what we thought it was, but it ain’t going to win us a game,” Paolo Banchero said. “We’ve got to be better on the other end.”
  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs is “doing better” after suffering a left knee injury in Game 2, per head coach Jamahl Mosley, who told reporters today that he expects Suggs to be available for Game 3 (Twitter link via Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel).
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