Heat president Pat Riley was pleased with the development of several young players this season, telling reporters at his end-of-season press conference that he was especially impressed with the improvements of Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.
“When we drafted Bam, we didn’t think Bam would be an All-Star this quick,” Riley said, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “We saw a great athlete. We didn’t even know how great a person he was. When we found out the level of his character and his loyalty and being a teammate, that with his talent, we knew we had something special.”
Adebayo averaged 17.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in the playoffs, with the 23-year-old showing noticeable improvements on both ends of the floor this season. As for Herro, a fearless 20-year-old who just finished his rookie season, Riley had much of the same praise for his campaign.
“[He] grew through listening and he grew through the mentorship of Udonis Haslem, Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic,” Riley said. “All of those guys and the ones that came at midseason — Andre [Iguodala] and Solomon [Hill] and Kelly [Olynyk] and Meyers [Leonard] — all of these veterans took him under their wing because they saw something special there
“He got better not just as a shooter, but as a shotmaker. He got better in handling the ball. I used to see him out here on the court with our coaches that were developing him putting him through a myriad of ball-handling drills against pressure, banging him with the heavy bag, making him go to the basket and knocking him down and making sure he concentrated on finishing.
“He’s a very, very efficient offensive player. He got better as a playmaker. His vision — he started to see other plays because he could take it to the rack. He’s a great kid. He works hard and we have somebody very special in him.”
There’s more from the Eastern Conference today:
- Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic examine the Hawks’ best draft fits, potential trades and more. Atlanta owns the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
- Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel considers whether Kings guard De’Aaron Fox could loom as a future fallback option for the Heat when they go star-hunting. Fox averaged a career-high 21.1 points, 6.8 assists and 1.5 steals in 49 games this past season.
- Josh Robbins of The Athletic predicts which players the Magic will sign and let walk in free agency this year. Orlando finished with a 33-40 record last season, good for eighth-best in the Eastern Conference. Evan Fournier ($17.15MM) and James Ennis ($2.13MM) both hold player options for next season, with D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams set to reach unrestricted free agency. In addition, Wesley Iwundu ($2MM) and Gary Clark ($1.8MM) are eligible for qualifying offers that would make them restricted free agents, and the club must make a decision on Melvin Frazier Jr.‘s $1.66MM team option.