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Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wants more recognition for Adebayo: ‘Whatever I said about Jimmy (Butler), you say that about Bam’ – Basketball Insiders


Heat star Bam Adebayo is proving to be a player who can guard top offensive rivals at every position on the floor, while performing defensive schemes without missing a beat. 

“He has to have his fingerprints all over this competition,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra had said about his athlete during their playoff run. “And the way he does it is very similar to the way Jimmy does it.

“There are massive challenges for him — to be able to defend everybody, anybody, and all the schemes, and then offensively, you know, all the scoring, the facilitating, all of that. But that’s what he wants.”

Bam has also proved to be able to start the offense by taking the ball up the court, and either finding a pick-and-roll combination with his teammates, or simply going all the way downhill to attack the rim.

It is pretty clear that Jimmy Butler is another player who is just as versatile and dominant in both sides of the court, as he’s proved time and time again this postseason. Their coach, however, has insisted to the press that Adebayo deserves just as much recognition as his star teammate.

“Whatever I said about Jimmy, you say that about Bam,” Spoelstra told the press right after they beat Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final series. “Because he does it on both ends, and he’s not defined by that final number on the box score.”

Just by taking a glance on his stat lines, you can get a better idea on what the Heat trainer is stressing about. Bam has dropped 30 or more points 20 times in 478 career contests, reached a 40-point display once, and averaged 20 points per match for the first time ever this campaign. The 25-year-old seems to be getting better by the season.

“I understand the narrative [about Miami turning undrafted players into rotation contributors], but some of our best player development projects have also been lottery picks,” the Miami coach said last week. “You can make a case that Bam is one of the best examples of that.”

Adebayo also recognizes his own improvement and believes that his secret is to be himself

“I’ve gotten so much better since last year — making reads, being aggressive, knowing the time to score,” Adebayo said after beating the Celtics in Game 1 of the series. “Just the whole overall of the game, I feel like I’ve gotten better. So it’s a different me playing than it was last year.”

The Miami center admitted that he wouldn’t be in this favorable position if it wasn’t for his coach, who inspired him to be himself during his team’s playoff run.

“Spo gave me ultimate clarity: ‘Be you,’” Adebayo shared with the press. “For me, that’s simple enough. He wants me to be aggressive, and he wants me to score.”

Spoelstra is witnessing his constant growth as a basketball star. “He’s going through exploration,” the coach said. “The only way to get better is experience. I want him to be a different player six weeks from now, three months from now. And then I’ll move the goal posts again.”

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