The Miami Heat are gradually putting the league on notice with how well they’ve been playing all season. Not only do they lead the competitive Eastern Conference standings (41-21) by two games, they’ve also been an excellent defensive team all year.
This is in large part because of their defensive anchor Bam Adebayo, averaging 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. Adebayo, who missed 25 games early in the season, has done a phenomenal job protecting the rim, making up for his teammates’ defensive lapses, and guarding the opponent’s wings and point-of-attack players.
Bam is making a case for Defensive Player of the Year
After the Heat dominated the surging Chicago Bulls (112-99) in a blowout win and held DeMar DeRozan to just 18 points for the game, Spoelstra praised his big man for an excellent job. The 14-year Heat head coach even said that Adebayo deserves to be in the conversation for the Defensive Player of the Year award and compared him to Golden State Warriors’ defensive guru Draymond Green.
“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.”
The stats will back Bam’s back up.
Adebayo’s hand injury and missed games may cause him the DPOY award, but the stats will prove that he’s had one hell of a year on this end of the floor. In February, Bam led the league in blocked shots as he had 17 of those and 33 for the Year. Adebayo also holds offensive players to 36% shooting in the fourth quarter this season.
A strong case for Adebayo to win the DPOY award is that he can switch on any offensive player on the court. He can drop and recover in pick-and-roll coverage, defend the weak side and even provide rim protection when necessary — all of which will be important for the Heat come playoff time.
Adebayo has been impressive since his return from injury. But all eyes will be on him as the Heat look to get back to the NBA Finals. Adebayo will have to get through superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid for the Heat’s success come Playoff time.