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The underrated parts of Bam Adebayo’s game for the Miami Heat

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Adebayo gets noticed for his highlight dunks, but not his elite basketball IQ.

Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Miami Heat may have more layers to their game this season with Bam Adebayo as their full-time presence at the center spot.

While working on his jump shot may seem the obvious goal for Adebayo, getting his teammates to be alert for opportunities from his high basketball IQ may wind up being more useful to the team.

So far in a tiny sample size Adebayo leads all NBA centers in assist points created at 13, which bests All-Stars such as Nikola Jokic (10.7) or Karl-Anthony Towns (12.3). In raw numbers Adebayo averaged 5.3 assists per game, versus Jokic’s 5.3 and Towns’ 5.0.

In addition Adebayo is tied with Jokic and several other centers for the most secondary assists per game at 0.7.

A report from hoopshype goes into detail on Adebayo’s value to the Heat as a facilitator.

“As noted in our explanation of why Adebayo could win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, the big man increased his assist percentage from 11.4 percent as a rookie to 14.8 percent last season. That put him in the 83rd percentile among all bigs in 2018-19, which means he was already one of the better facilitators for his position.”

“The Heat assisted on nearly three out of four made shots. Five players were responsible for all 33 assists, with each of them collecting 5 or more. Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo each had 8.”

Per the hoopshype article above, “These possessions have not been particularly complicated, flashy or hard for him to replicate as the season progresses. In fact, based on its early successes, it would be hard to imagine Adebayo is not one of the leaders among all bigs in assists by the time the year is over.”

Another notable aspect of Adebayo’s game lies in his ability to draw fouls from his rivals and get bonus free throws for his Heat teammates.

Among centers playing 30 or more minutes, he’s tied with Towns and Anthony Davis with 9 free-throw attempts per game.

What’s even more remarkable is he’s the ONLY player in the NBA (min 30 minutes) with more free-throw attempts (9.0) than field-goal attempts (8.7).

Among Heat players, Chris Silva is the only other one with more FTA (4) than FGA (3).

Seems like Adebayo or Silva heaving shots from the perimeter would help the enemy stay out of foul trouble.

Besides Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler as ball-handlers, the Heat may also add Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn to the mix making the team difficult to guard against.

As Mae West once said, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful,” but then another cliché says “Too many cooks spoil a broth.”

What the Heat can do this season is create mismatches from many different angles, depending on game conditions and personnel, with their group of high basketball IQ players.

The addition of savvy Butler along a group of players under 25, such as Adebayo, Winslow, Nunn, Silva, Derrick Jones Jr., Tyler Herro, makes for a Miami team that brings the heat back to South Beach.