Bam Adebayo providing powerful paint punch amid Heat resurrection – The Denver Post


From the moment Bam Adebayo began to lobby last spring, from the moment he spoke about getting more shots, from the moment Miami Heat President Pat Riley said Adebayo should get more shots, the question was what the versatile 6-foot-9 center would do with those shots.

And then came the defining moments in these past two games and the victories that have lifted the Heat to 2-1 on this five-game trip that continues Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

On Saturday night, it was 11 for 17 and 32 points in the victory over the Utah Jazz. On Monday night, 12 of 19 for 31 in the win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Suddenly, no doubt about where the ball is going . . . or where it should be going.

“He can be the Swiss Army Knife killer,” coach Erik Spoelstra said in the wake of the victory over the Clippers about Adebayo’s increasing paint dominance, “particularly the way he’s developing all the different ways that you can punish the defense just by being available and finishing around that circle area.

“He’s just reading the possession and the scheme and what’s called for on that particular possession better than I think he’s ever done over the course of his career. He’s not like trying to go one-on-one, trying to force those kinds of plays. He’s making the defense having to feel a bunch of stress.”

So, now, no stress when the ball goes into Adebayo in the paint.

From a limited repertoire of rim runs, putbacks and dunks, there now is scorer’s touch, a player who has merited a career-high 15.6 shots per game, up from last season’s previous career high of 13.

“He’s just getting a feel of what to do in a particular moment that all the great players eventually develop,” Spoelstra said.

To Adebayo, it merely is doing what is needed, now that he is making himself needed.

“It just gives us another scorer,” Adebayo said.

For all the bluster about the need to keep up with the times and take his game to the 3-point line, something the Heat experimented extensively during training camp, a robust 70% of Adebayo’s shots this season have come within 10 feet of the rim, increasingly displaying a mastery of that universe.

“One, it gets us a lot of paint touches,” Adebayo said of taking up residence in the lane. “And two, that’s in my wheelhouse.

“I’m just getting to my spot.”

When Adebayo signed his five-year, $163 million extension in November 2020, one that kicked in last season, there was skepticism about a player who was viewed at the time solely as a defensive ace.

Now, this season’s $30 million salary has the feel of market value.

“He might not shoot threes,” Heat guard Victor Oladipo said, with Adebayo 1 of 10 on 3-pointers this season, mostly long-range heaves with an expiring clock, “but he does everything else now.”

Having worked at it relentlessly.

“He trusts in his game and we trust in his game,” Oladipo said. “And he’s being effective. When you give a guy confidence and belief that his game is what we need, that’s all he needs. He already puts in the work.

“It’s crazy to see his growth.”

If there has been a particular partner in the climb, it has been guard Tyler Herro.

Monday night’s Heat’s scoring opened with Herro working off the pick-and-roll to assist Adebayo on a 12-foot lane jumper. The Heat’s second basket came with Herro working off the pick-and-roll to assist Adebayo on a 12-foot lane jumper.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

“I mean, he can hurt you all over the place,” Herro said. “Whether it’s him handling or him catching it off the roll or a lob, literally the outcomes are endless for him as a big.”

Ultimately, as with many elite scorers — a tag he increasingly is earning — Adebayo is allowing the game to come to him.

“He’s letting the execution and other guys help him get easy baskets,” Spoelstra said. “And then when you need him to go get one, now, once he sees a bunch of easy ones go, then he can get to a lot of different things. But he’s Mr. Reliable.”



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