Bam Adebayo played his way to a five-year contract extension last season as the man teammate Jimmy Butler hailed as the ‘heart and soul’ of the Miami Heat.
The 23-year-old was runner-up for the Most Improved Player award and was named to the All-Star game for the first time in his career as he played a starring role on the Heat’s road to both the playoffs and the NBA Finals.
His breakout year has warranted added responsibility in 2021, with the 2017 first-round pick among those expected to be vying for Defensive Player of the Year honours.
In December, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra challenged the Kentucky product to put himself in the discussion for the award in the near future.
Discussing candidates for this season’s individual accolades on Sky Sports’ Heatcheck, Mo Mooncey tipped Adebayo to beat out the likes of Anthony Davies and Rudy Gobert.
“I’m saying Bam Adebayo, I also think it’s Anthony Davis but I feel like Anthony Davis won’t play enough games,” he said.
“With his injury history and also the lack of rest, I know Bam has had a lack of rest but he hasn’t had all the injuries that Anthony Davies has had throughout his career, so I feel like the Lakers are going to be more conservative with the minutes that they give to Anthony Davies and the number of games he plays as the season progresses.
“Whereas Bam is still younger than AD and he’s got that fiery energy. They’re going to need to rest Jimmy so Bam is going to have to carry a lot more.”
Live NBA: Boston @ Miami 06.01
Thursday 7th January 12:30am
Adebayo averaged a career-high 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game in the regular season, before posting 17.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in the playoffs.
He is averaging 19 points, eight rebounds and 4.3 assists through five games so far this campaign, with the Heat entering Wednesday’s matchup with the Boston Celtics 3-3 on the back of a big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder after a 10-point defeat to the Dallas Mavericks.
Besides enhancing his adeptness on the defensive side of the ball, Adebayo has also set out to complement that with improved production as a focal point on offense.
Signs of doing that were evident on New Year’s Eve when he posted 22 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in the 119-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Also just as a team, that Miami defense and the way Erik Spoelstra has got them running it is absolutely phenomenal and I feel like a lot of people are sleeping on just how good defensively they were last year and that playoff run really put them in the spotlight,” added Mooncey.
“So now that Bam has got that bit of spotlight he can go out and really showcase why he is one of the best defenders in the league.”
The Heat not only invested heavily in Adebayo’s services this offseason, but also tied down Goran Dragic as well as sought adding defensive support in former New York Knick Maurice Harkless following the loss of Jae Crowder to the Phoenix Suns.
Watch Bam and the Miami Heat host the Boston Celtics live on Sky Sports Arena from half past midnight in the early hours of Thursday morning.
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