Through a lot of the Miami Heat’s struggles, Bam Adebayo has become a type of scapegoat. Usually that means a player isn’t performing to the level many expected, or possibly doing too much to ruin the team’s chances of winning.
The interesting part about this situation though, is that it’s the complete opposite of that, since he’s playing well, but not on high volume. He has the defensive attributes, the passing abilities, the offensive focal point status, and much more. But there’s only one issue, he does all of that and treats his scoring technique as if he is a role player.
And well, even if you’ve had certain doubts about that being all he is capable of, just take some time out of your day to scan through some highlights when he played the Brooklyn Nets earlier in the season. It’s in there. We know it. Jimmy Butler knows it. Erik Spoelstra knows it. But does Adebayo know it?
A very underrated part of his game up to this point has been his level of efficiency on a night to night basis, especially since he’s not a traditional big who only scores at the rim. The only downfall of that element of his game at this stage is that it honestly does not help this team win basketball games.
He has shot over 65% from the field in 14 games this season, which the initial observation would be that’s a pretty impressive thing to do. But then as you drag your finger across the box score to the win column, you’d notice the Heat are 3-11 in those games.
This team is not in need of an efficient Adebayo, or a facilitating Adebayo, or most importantly an unselfish Adebayo. They’re actually in need of that second go-to guy while Jimmy Butler continues to put the team on his back against teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, still not translating to wins.
Butler notices this as well, saying “I want Bam to attack the rim, cause nobody can stay in front of him…I like the mid-range jumper, but he lets people off the hook. I like bully ball.”
When many people first heard or read this quote, they immediately picked out the first and last line due to the tone he said it in, and necessity for Adebayo to hear it. But the middle sentence is actually the most important. Even when Adebayo scored 41 points against the Nets, my primary takeaway was that he must attack the basket more than he relies on the jumper. That mid-range is a small percentage of his game that can tie everything together, but the off the dribble stuff is his foundation and strong base.
So, all of this is fairly clear. Attempts must increase instead of field goal percentage. His unselfish needs to fade away at times. He needs to take Butler’s advice. But what is next from this point?
Well, a favorable match-up against the Brooklyn Nets would be a good start on Sunday afternoon, since it’s the team he recently dominated. Now, I’m not so sure if that makes it more or less likely, due to the fact that even if Adebayo is up for it, the Nets may be more prepared to stop it. But let’s just say they are fully ready for an aggressive Adebayo, as Butler said, nobody can stay in front of him. It doesn’t matter who they throw on him, he is capable of getting to the rim with ease.
The current traffic stop for Adebayo right now is much more mental than physical. He’s clearly got people in his head about it, especially after a disappointing night from him against Phoenix, he came out the following night with an aggressive mindset, while still trying to play his same game as a facilitator.
And ladies and gentleman, that’s the next leap. That current choice to either sit back and wait for the puzzle pieces to fall into place, or step up like the star player that he is more than capable of being right this moment.
Also, this shouldn’t be much of a pressured decision, since frankly, this team has nothing to lose as they sit at the seventh seed in the East, looking around for some type of boost. That boost was Victor Oladipo for a short period of time, but due to the continued uncertainties with his injury, that can’t be harped on.
There’s only one other thing that can fully propel this team into Eastern Conference contention, and that’s the upcoming decision of Bam Adebayo.