Did you see that?
The one possession that mattered in the All-Star Game for Heat supporters: Bam Adebayo dribbled upcourt, pulled up and swished a trifecta over Nikola Jokić. Instantly, the masses wondered how much his game could leap forward. If only TNT’s broadcast crew had the chops to quote Heat play-by-play caller Eric Reid with a well-deserved “Ka-Bam.”
Hopefully, it’s not something #13 abandons going forward. If so, it would further indict the unseriousness of the event and be a lost opportunity, too. When he came into the league, he couldn’t throw a brick into the ocean. Seven years later, his range has expanded to middle and he’s one of the top bigs in that zone. But he could do more.
In the modern NBA, barely any team knows how to cover the 3-point line. Even reputable defenders sag off the best shooters and sometimes a weak outside option is left alone behind the arc. And worse- defenders commit the cardinal sin of fouling 3-point shooters, trying to block the attempt as if many are even rejected on the perimeter.
Adebayo should punish defenses when they treat him like Draymond Green from distance. Yes, running the dribble handoff for a teammate in that spot ensures plenty of space and time if the screen is solid. But a teammate curling from the corner or baseline can take an extra second or two. He should start taking at least one triple nightly when the perimeter opens up for him. If he starts burying them, his matchup can’t play safety to trap his teammates. Eventually, an opposing player will send him to the stripe for three.
At Media Day for the 2021-22 campaign, Adebayo brazenly said he would start firing threes and wanted to be a shooter. That season, he missed all six of his deep tries, followed by one of 12 triples in 2022-23. This year, he’s logged one of 11 3-pointers through 45 outings.
Adebayo has frequently worked on outside marksmanship at the end of warmups for about three seasons. Still, he’s hardly found the nerve to attempt them in meaningful game moments, and that’s too bad. There always comes a time- no matter how badly he wants to set up his teammate- that the right move will be to take one himself.
To be clear, he should have the shot in his bag because it moves him closer to being a complete player. Yet, turning into a trigger-happy soft-big is the last thing the Heat needs. The latter would likely prevent him from setting career highs, like this year, in free throw attempts (6.3), and where he will always inflict the most pressure is in the paint.
To my knowledge, there is no incentive in Adebayo’s contract for making threes. But the Heat should consider adding it in his next extension, or coach Erik Spoelstra or anyone of rank could open up their wallets and fork out $1,600 per made triple. Club president Pay Riley used to pay his Knicks that much when taking charges. Despite NBAers being millionaires, monetary gains will still spike their interest.
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