In Bam Adebayo’s opinion, there’s one choice for Defensive Player of the Year: himself.
After the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, Adebayo did a quick TV interview on TNT where he staked his claim to the award.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 12, 2021
When TNT analyst Dwyane Wade teased Adebayo for haircut, Adebayo quipped back “Hey man, it’s getting me Defensive Player of Year. Let’s talk about that.”
“I do everything on defense,” he went on to say. “And I’m going to walk out on that one.”
Adebayo is 100 percent right that he does everything on defense. He lead the team in blocks, is third in steals, and can handle basically assignment on the floor. In terms of being a modern defensive anchor, it’s hard to get better than Adebayo. He can play drop coverage, he can switch, and play any other scheme the Heat need. There are very few bigs, if any, who can switch onto smaller, quicker guards and be totally up to the task. He should be a lock for first-team All-Defense at the very least.
But this doesn’t feel like the year he’ll get Defensive Player of the Year. Right now, it seems like a two-man race for the award between Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. Per Cleaning The Glass, the Jazz are first in defense and the 76ers are second; the Heat are eighth. The Jazz also have the league’s best record, while the 76ers are first in the Eastern Conference. The Heat, meanwhile, are sixth in the East and not considered among the elite teams in the league right now. In splitting hairs for Defensive Player of the Year, that matters.
Still, Adebayo should be staking his claim for win right now. He, along with Jimmy Butler, did a lot to keep Miami functioning after their run to the Finals in the Bubble. This awards come down to nitpicking and Adebayo has just a few more flaws in his resume for this season. This also probably not the last time Adebayo will make his case as the league’s best defender.