The NBA Summer League has had its share of surprises, as both veterans and rookies have made their mark. “NBA Summer” is bigger than its ever been, with even casual fans tuning in to watch the action. Loads of young talent have been on display, and one of the players that have jumped off the screen is Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat. The 19-year old has shown incredible athleticism, which validated the Heat drafting him 14th overall. Many draft experts saw that as a bit of a reach, but Adebayo has more than warranted the late lottery selection thus far.
Bam Adebayo is a Miami Heat Franchise Cornerstone
Adebayo has shown much more than he did at the University of Kentucky. Playing tight to the vest under coach John Calipari, he was simply a shot blocker, rebounder, and inside presence for lobs. Even though it’s only Summer League, Adebayo has displayed he is much more than those things. According to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, the Kentucky product put up averages of 16.6 points and 8.5 rebounds. He also averaged 1.3 blocks in seven total games combining contests in Orlando and Las Vegas.
That’s more than he contributed in college. He had 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and a player efficiency rating of 22.0 at Kentucky (per Sports Reference). Adebayo had the most dunks of any UK player coached by Calipari, per NBA.com, and that skill has not been dormant.
He has been a common recipient of alley-oops throughout Summer League play. His rim-running skills have flashed on putback jams, too. That will always be there as a bread-and-butter skill set, much like teammate Hassan Whiteside, who is one of the best rim-runners in the NBA. With at least one of those two on the floor most of the game, Miami should be one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the league.
Adebayo was second in the Southeastern Conference in offensive boards, per Sports Reference. He is relentless on the glass on both ends. Often times, he got rebounds while being boxed out by two or three guys. That puts constant pressure on the opposing defense and will warrant him playing time right away. With the Heat likely losing 2017 revelation Willie Reed, it makes up for potentially lost rebounding numbers. That said, he looks like a whole lot more than just a rebounder.
A Versatile Scoring Option
I know it’s not games that really count for anything, but his offensive skill set brings so much upside. Adebayo got more reps throughout the NCAA season in the post, and he displayed effectiveness on both blocks numerous times in Summer League play. He is a tough cover for bigs because he has explosive quickness and has shown the capability to knock down free throws at a high clip. Combined with Adebayo’s straight line drives both in half court and in transition, he can be instant offense off the bench, or as a complement to Whiteside occasionally at the 4.
If he keeps working at the mid-range game, his mobility could make him even more valuable. As a roll man in pick-and-roll sets with guards Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Dion Waiters, he’ll be a tough cover. As a youngster, Bam Adebayo is the future in the Heat’s frontcourt, and he could eventually be Chris Bosh-like. He can play the 4 or 5. It will be interesting to see how Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra uses him going forward.
Another Gifted Rim Protector
Per TeamRankings, the Heat finished third in the NBA in blocks per game last season. They have a special shot blocker in Whiteside and another formidable one on the wing in James Johnson. Adding Adebayo to those two makes it very difficult for teams to get buckets at the rim. Teams will be forced to rely on perimeter shooting for long stretches against Miami, and if they miss, the Heat could capitalize in transition in a big way.
Bam Adebayo is not only a rim protector, however. He has the lateral quickness to switch out against all five positions, and he has very strong hands to dislodge the ball. This guy is going to be a rock solid two-way contributor.