Heat: Why Bam Adebayo deserves Most Improved Player of the Year

Miami Heat, Bam Adebayo
NBA Analysis Network
Miami Heat, Bam Adebayo
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

3. Defensive Versatility

At 6-9, Bam Adebayo is one of the smaller star centers in the NBA. However, that doesn’t deter him from performing at a borderline All-Defensive level. Combined with a versatile wing like Jimmy Butler, Adebayo solidifies the Heat as one of the top 15 defenses in the league.

While Adebayo doesn’t possess typical center size, he’s still become an interior anchor for Miami’s defense. The third-year pro flashes incredible athleticism and creativity on the defensive end. He occasionally struggles against seven-footers, but Adebayo mostly uses his speed and strength to keep pace with the NBA’s larger players.

Most big men offer nothing when they come face-to-face with guards on the perimeter. That’s not the case with Adebayo. The Heat can freely switch the big man on defense because of his ability to stick with smaller players.

Adebayo also provides reliable rim protection despite not standing eye-to-eye with other well-known shot alterers. He isn’t on the same level as Giannis Antetokounmpo or Rudy Gobert, but Adebayo fills the role perfectly for the Heat.

The Heat posted a 106 defensive rating with Adebayo on the court this season. For reference, Jimmy Butler only recorded a 108 defensive rating. Adebayo finished sixth in the NBA with 3.6 defensive win shares. His 2.1 defensive box plus/minus tied for tenth in the league, and Adebayo hauled in the seventh-most rebounds before the league suspended play.

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