Bam Adebayo’s Aggression is the Key That Unlocks Miami’s Offense

Through 45 games, the Miami Heat are settling in as an average team. At least that’s what the numbers indicate. The rotation has resembled a game of musical chairs more often than not, but the numbers are the numbers. They are 24th in points per 100 possessions, 26th in eFG%, and thanks to a top-4 defense, they are outscoring opposing teams by less than one point (0.4) per 100 possessions. So, yeah. Average.


There is one trend, however, that has permeated through the shaky offense: Bam Adebayo’s offensive aggressiveness.


It was clear early on that Bam’s calling card is defense. There are few players in the league more versatile that can guard 1-5 more effectively than Bam. Keyword – effectively. But offense? That was a different story.


Early on in his career, Bam was used more as a P&R lob toy for the likes of an aging Dwyane Wade or Tyler Johnson. (Bet you didn’t think you’d read Tyler Johnson’s name in a Heat article again).


Over the last couple of years, however, we’ve seen Bam’s offensive game blossom. Not just in stats and numbers but in his confidence.


A few short seasons ago the majority of his offense came from inside the paint. Per Cleaning The Glass, 67% of his field goal attempts came at the rim across his first three seasons. Teams recognized this and quickly started playing drop on Miami’s P&Rs. Opposing defenses were daring him to step up and take mid-range jumpers. Because Bam wasn’t comfortable, he would hesitate at times and it would neutralize Miami’s offensive possession.


Remember the 2021 playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks? Sure, there was a slew of reasons why the Heat was swept, but one major takeaway was the Bucks’ ability to exploit Bam’s lack of confidence and aggression in the mid-range. As you can see in the examples below, they planted Brook Lopez in the paint and dared Bam to step up and beat them.


The result? Miami shot 39% from the field as a team and averaged a measly 98 PPG.


Offense = Neutralized.×720.mp4


Brook Lopez is among the best centers when it comes to playing drop. More on that in a second.×720.mp4


Since that series, Bam’s aggression is night and day. He’s stepping into pull-up jumpers with confidence and sinking them with career-high efficiency. As a result, Miami’s offense becomes potent. According to the data, 58% of Bam’s shots are coming from the mid-range this season. That puts him in the 99th percentile among other bigs. As for efficiency, he’s knocking down 46% of them. That’s a career-high and better than Kristaps Porzingis (45%) and Jayson Tatum (41%) this season.


Remember when Lopez and the Bucks’ drop defense exposed Bam in the 2021 playoffs? Well, he had a chance to redeem himself earlier this month when the two teams met. While this was just a normal January matchup to some, I viewed it as an opportunity to gauge just how far Bam has come offensively. With a healthy Lopez starting and plenty of drop in store, how would Bam respond?


He obliterated it right from the jump. It was clear the Heat made it a point to get him the ball early on offense. Rather than hesitating, he went right at Lopez.


These three possessions early on in the game are a great indicator of what an aggressive Bam does for Miami’s offense.×720.mp4


Anytime the Bucks showed drop, Bam took advantage.×720.mp4


After that make, it was clear that the Bucks’ coaches instructed Lopez to play closer to Bam on the P&R, rather than giving up an easy jumper.

See it here:


Two possessions later, Lopez sticks closer to Bam on the screen and it opens up a driving lane for Jimmy Butler. He cashes it in for two.


Put simply, an aggressive Bam opens up Miami’s offense. A passive Bam clogs it up.


As we saw above, when he was aggressive early on and attacked the defense, it opened up driving lanes for his teammates, namely Butler.


It’s no secret by now that Bam’s aggression is the key that unlocks Miami’s offense. The Heat is enjoying their best stretch of basketball this season, and Bam is averaging 23.3 points, 11.2 rebounds and 17.6 field goal attempts over his last 10 games. Coincidence? I think not.


Despite the average offensive numbers for the season, if the Heat can remain healthy and  THIS Bam shows up for the playoffs – watch out.

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