The Miami Heat have some high hopes for the 2022-23 season. They perennially contend out of the Eastern Conference, thanks in large part to their stifling defense. A big part of that defense is star center Bam Adebayo, who has quickly emerged as one of the best all-around defensive players in the entire NBA.
Adebayo believes only two players can do what he does on defense
Adebayo has a unique ability to play all over the floor on defense and guard whoever he finds himself up against. Whether it be an opposing center in the paint trying to get to the rim, or a guard at the perimeter trying to create space for a three, Adebayo is fantastic at preventing his opponent from scoring, regardless of who they are.
Adebayo’s defensive skill set puts him in an exclusive club of players who can guard every position on the court, popularly known as guarding one through five. Not many players can do what Adebayo does, and he knows this, which is why he feels slighted for not getting more recognition when it comes to the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
Adebayo believes he’s the best definition of a player who can guard one through five in the NBA nowadays, while also mentioning Draymond Green and Giannis Antetokounmpo as players who can do the same thing.
“I feel like I’m damn near the only guy. Me, and I give Draymond [Green] and probably Giannis, three guys who can literally guard 1-through-5 and be effective. Switch on to a Kyrie. Switch onto KD. Switch onto Joel Embiid. The thing about guards winning it is they don’t be down there. They don’t be in that semi-circle.” - Bam Adebayo, NBA.com
Adebayo makes some bold claims about his defensive skills
Adebayo is a skilled defender, and his ability to guard every position on the court certainly helps. Green and Antetokounmpo are both players who fit the same category in their own unique way, with Green’s strength and speed making him a difficult defender to get by and Antetokounmpo’s length making him a problem for every player he crosses too.
While Adebayo is right in saying these guys fit the bill, there are probably others who do too. When he’s healthy and playing his best basketball, Ben Simmons is arguably the best one-through-five defender in the league. Adebayo also discredits guards in his quote from above, but it’s worth noting that reigning DPOY Marcus Smart is also one of the best one through five defenders in the league, despite playing point guard for the Boston Celtics.
The debate of defensive importance between big men and guards has raged on for years, and it’s clear that Adebayo doesn’t believe guards can do what he does. Adebayo isn’t necessarily wrong, but there are also things that those guards can do that he can’t. Adebayo will be looking to prove that second statement wrong this upcoming season with the Heat, and who knows, if he’s able to do so, he could claim his first ever DPOY award.