“They were in need of a big and a rim protector, so I felt this opportunity was right for me.”
That’s what Dewayne Dedmon said when he first spoke to media after joining the team less than two weeks ago. The initial takeaway when things like this were said, was that explosive rim protectors and interior forces aren’t usually found on the buyout market, especially when looking for immediate production.
But well, Dedmon has been all that and more in his first two games played with the team. In his first game as the back-up big against Brooklyn, he scored 10 points on 100% efficiency on 1 field goal attempt. Yes, you read that correctly.
Eight for eight from the free-throw line did not seem Dedmon-like, but getting to the charity stripe 8 times definitely did. He’s a force on the offensive boards, meaning those battles down low lead to many fouls, and more importantly, extra opportunities for their offense.
In his second game in this role, it was clearly different than the night before. The Heat were without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro, while still keeping his role as Precious Achiuwa slid up to that starting spot. Dedmon contributed 12 points off the bench on 75% shooting, this time around with 8 shot attempts. Although it’s a small sample size, the clear thing is that his stat-line will look pretty much the same every night, which is exactly what they’ve missed.
When I asked Dedmon about Adebayo before his first game, as well as filling his shoes when he exits the floor, he responded, “I’m not Bam. I’m not looking to come in here and do what Bam does. I come in here and try to fill a defensive void that I feel like they need.” And he’s filled much more than just a defensive void on this team so far.
When Miami was evaluating their back-up big spot a few months ago, the thought process was to have an Adebayo-like player, in Precious Achiuwa, who is also an undersized big with a lot of energy. That hasn’t progressed nicely up until this point, which led to Miami going into the total opposite direction. A lengthy, veteran, rebounding, rim protecting big, which is obviously not Achiuwa at this stage.
A huge issue for Miami throughout the season was the non-Adebayo minutes, which was why the on-off numbers for him were so outrageous. It partly has to do with Adebayo’s unique self, facilitating the offense whenever he’s on the floor, while switching 1 through 5 on the defensive end. But it mostly had to do with the drop-off behind him, since it seemed the team was just praying to stay afloat whenever Adebayo needed a breather.
But that’s not the worry anymore. They’ve got a guy that they seem to trust, and it hasn’t even been two weeks since he joined the team. When Erik Spoelstra talked about him after the last game, he said, “He’s a savvy veteran. He’s a big muscle defender, extra effort guy. He can fit into a lot of different systems like he has, and he’s been a starter for several years, so we were thrilled to get him at this time of year.”
The key word in that quote was “system,” since finding a guy that can plug into their schemes this late into the season was a very important element to rounding out this year’s roster. The next evaluation period for Dedmon will come when Butler finally hits the floor again, since we’ve yet to see that tandem work the offense when Spoelstra is staggering Butler and Adebayo.
And if there’s one thing that is known about Butler, it’s that he elevates high IQ veterans like Dedmon whenever he hits the floor. Obviously, Miami has some other issues to straighten out before getting into post-season mode, but at least they can check off one of those things with the latest Dedmon acquisition.