Why Bam Adebayo’s Summer League Performance Is Encouraging, Even If The Numbers Are Not

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LAS VEGAS — Just one year after re-signing Hassan Whiteside to a four-year, $98 million contract, the Miami Heat shocked draftniks by using the 14th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to take Bam Adebayo out of Kentucky. With a ton of upside coming out of his one year in Lexington, it wasn’t necessarily surprising that he was drafted at the bottom of the lottery, but the fact that it was the Heat who took him did turn some heads.

At the time, Miami might have been better off looking for help on the wing, especially with Whiteside locked up to a huge contract to be their starting center. But as it turns out, Adebayo’s play in his rookie year made the Heat look awfully smart, leading many (including yours truly) to think that he may be the best center on their roster.

As is customary among non-superstar rookies, Adebayo is back for his second run in the NBA Summer League, and while the statistics haven’t been special (he’s shooting just 37.5 percent from two-point range), he’s showing off more of the all-around game that makes him a perfect fit for the modern NBA. Before the festivities kicked off, Heat Summer League head coach Eric Glass told the Palm Beach Post that Adebayo would have the chance to do a bit of everything.

So far, we’ve seen Adebayo handling the ball in short roll situations, rim-running for lobs, and even stretching his shot out beyond the three-point line. In four games in Sacramento and Las Vegas, results have been mixed at best, with Adebayo committing more turnovers than Miami would like in short roll opportunities, plus still looking for his first made three-pointer of the summer.

He remains a phenomenal lob threat in pick-and-roll situations; his athleticism even stands out at the NBA level, so it’s no surprise that he’s on another plane against Summer League competition when it comes to getting up for big finishes at the rim.

Heralded for his playmaking at the center position in his rookie year, things haven’t gone quite as well as one would hope in Summer League. He’s not able to catch with as much space around him — defenses aren’t nearly as afraid of Matt Farrell as they are of Goran Dragic — and the shooters surrounding him aren’t hitting at the same rate they do in the regular season. This has led to Adebayo posting twice as many turnovers as assists through four games, though a handful of his turnovers have come in relatively unorthodox situations.