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Heat have their own freight train with rookie Bam Adebayo attacking the rim in transition

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Jordan Mickey’s fine effort as rim protector could lead to Adebayo’s natural role as a forward in transition offense and defense.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For the Miami Heat normally the veterans Goran Dragic, James Johnson, or Dwyane Wade break out and lead the team on transition plays down the court.

While still a rookie and learning on the job, numbers hint the 6’10” and 255 lb Bam Adebayo could be the Heat’s next freight train in transition as he attacks the basket with his force and fury.

Transition Points Per Possession

PLAYER PPP EFG% FT TO AND ONE SCORE PCTLE
PLAYER PPP EFG% FT TO AND ONE SCORE PCTLE
Bam Adebayo 1.23 58.3% 37.1% 5.7% 11.4% 62.9% 73.1
Kelly Olynyk 1.18 64.0% 14.9% 13.4% 3.0% 52.2% 64.9
Wayne Ellington 1.15 59.6% 2.7% 5.5% 1.4% 45.2% 60.9
Goran Dragic 1.15 60.7% 13.0% 10.7% 2.8% 54.8% 60.2
Tyler Johnson 1.08 56.5% 3.6% 5.4% 0.0% 46.8% 49.9
Josh Richardson 1.03 55.6% 7.6% 11.9% 3.4% 46.6% 38.3
Justise Winslow 0.98 50.0% 13.8% 10.0% 3.8% 48.8% 25.5
James Johnson 0.90 59.8% 9.8% 30.5% 2.4% 43.9% 16.3
Dion Waiters 0.89 48.9% 10.9% 20.3% 1.6% 40.6% 14.3

Despite his lack of NBA experience, Adebayo has the highest percentile ranking of any Heat player (more than 30 possessions) in transition plays, based on points per possession.

What sets Bam apart from his Heat teammates comes from his ability to absorb contact at the rim to draw fouls at a high level, and his low turnover rate in transition.

Bam free throw frequency of 37% easily outpaces Dragic’s 13% and James Johnson’s 10%; in fact Bam has the highest free throw frequency of ANY player (>30 possessions) in the NBA, with only three others surpassing the 30% mark.

  1. Bam Adebayo - 37.1%
  2. Andrew Harrison - 35.2%
  3. Jerian Grant - 32.9%
  4. Giannis Antetokounmpo - 30.9%

So even if the ball doesn’t go in the basket on the play, he can cash in with points from the free throw line.

Johnson’s turnover rate of 30% in transition makes his every possession an exciting adventure, which doesn’t always turn out well, and knocks down his percentile ranking.

Being a rookie learning the NBA style of competition, Adebayo isn’t as disciplined protecting the rim as Jordan Mickey was in the Cleveland Cavaliers game, and every so often Bam gets caught napping by veteran NBA players in off-the-ball set plays.

Mickey’s talents reside as a rim protector and rebounder in the restricted area, rather than dealing with one-on-one coverage, which Bam excels in with his skilled foowork defending a Julius Randle or Stephen Curry.

In just his first NBA season, Adebayo has proved adept drawing shooting fouls in transition plays, and together with his physical strength to finish through contact, will only get better in the years to come as he masters his craft.