In Miami, Bam Adebayo continues to prove why he's one of the best big men in the NBA. This season, despite some injuries, he's having the best statistical performance of his career with 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game on 53% shooting.
He has flown under the radar for most of the season, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made sure to show him some love in a recent chat with the media.
“I think he’s deserved to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year,” Spoelstra said, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “He just makes you so dynamic defensively. There’s not many guys in the league that can do what he does—[Warriors forward] Draymond Green, and the list probably stops there.”
A lot separates Draymond and Bam, including several NBA Championships. Still, it's not hard to see how they might be compared. They both use their size, mobility, and defensive IQ to be among the best defenders in the game.
Except, unlike Draymond, Bam doesn't get nearly enough recognition for it. He is hardly mentioned in the DPOY conversation and his role in Miami has been overshadowed by guys like Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry.
Nevertheless, he does his job without exception and a few have taken notice.
“I think he’s the best big in the league behind Nikola Jokic because of his athletic versatility, his passing, he can play big or small, and guard on the perimeter,” one NBA general manager told HoopsHype. “I’m thinking about the playoffs, not the regular season. He can beat Rudy Gobert down the floor and guard Joel Embiid. He can match up with Giannis Antetokounmpo if the [Milwaukee] Bucks go small. He’s good at preventing guys from getting to their spots and taking comfortable shots. I don’t know what else you want from your five?"
Miami sits at first in the East with an impressive 41-21 record. They're on a 4-game win streak and are 9-1 in their last 10 games.
When the playoffs start this spring, they will be working to return to the Finals. It will require getting through a Conference littered with some amazing competition.
But with guys like Adebayo, Butler, Herro, and Lowry, the Heat have a good chance to make some noise.