Heat's Bam Adebayo on pace to join elite company
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo has positioned himself to join some elite company.
At his current pace, he is set to become just the sixth player in NBA history to average at least 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block. The others are Larry Bird, Chris Webber, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Adebayo is averaging career-highs in points (16.2), rebounds (10.5), assists (5.1), blocks (1.3) and steals (1.2). Last month he competed in his first All-Star Game. On Monday, he had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the Heat's victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the league's best record. He also played a role in slowing Antetokounmpo, who finished with a season-low 13 points.
"This is one of the prototypical Bam Adebayo winning games," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I didn't notice what his stat line was but he didn't have his normal flow offensively, particularly through the first three quarters. He missed some shots. He looked like he might have gotten fouled on a couple. We weren't able to generate our normal looks with our shooters with him. He just stayed with it. That's the kind of grit, persistence that he has. He has winning habits so he's figured out different ways to help you ... He's doing it all over the place."
Adebayo, in just his third season, has drawn praise from peers throughout the season. Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP, was the latest to compliment his progress.
"He plays hard," Antetokounmpo said. "You always respect him. I respect his toughness. It was a great experience having him on my team in the All-Star Game."
Heat legend Dwyane Wade, who retired last season, feels Adebayo could eventually become the face of the organization. Adebayo is only 22.
"He's definitely somebody we look at and say that, `You have that character. You have that opportunity to do something special within this organization that loves you,"' Wade said last month at his jersey retirement ceremony.