Bam Adebayo carried the Miami Heat in their last two wins, scoring 38 points Friday night against Washington before notching 32 in a Sunday matinee at the Atlanta Hawks. Considering Pat Riley challenged Adebayo to take a more aggressive offensive role after last season, Adebayo has answered the call.
The question, of course, is whether the Heat’s 2017 first-round pick can sustain it.
Jimmy Butler will miss Miami’s game tomorrow at the Boston Celtics. That gives Adebayo more room to operate offensively. In a recent article, Couper Moorhead pointed out other stretches in which Adebayo has taken the reins offensively — Butler hasn’t played. He said, “There’s also something to be said for Miami’s spacing never quite being perfect with Butler and Adebayo on the court together.”
Has Bam Adebayo taken a leap?— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) November 29, 2022
Is the zone sustainable?
Why aren't the threes falling?
Answers to these questions and more in this volume of the mailbag: https://t.co/b6YuDWbErJ
The Heat, though, have committed max contracts to both Butler and Adebayo. It’s imperative to find a way for them to work together, even though the fit can be clunky since neither is a 3-point shooter. (And we aren’t dealing with the talent level of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade here.)
Before the season, I talked about Adebayo’s possible addition of a 3-point shot. But 21 games into the regular season, he hasn’t made a 3-point shot yet. But on the other hand, Jimmy Butler is shooting 35.5 percent on 3s this season, more than a 10-percentage point jump from either of his first two seasons in Miami. And he’s attempting 3s at a higher rate — 2.4 attempts per game instead of 2.
As I mentioned before, Butler was a respectable 3-point shooter as recently as the 2018-19 season. During Miami’s playoff runs in 2020 and 2022, Butler again became a respectable 3-point shooter, hitting 35 and 34 percent of his attempts from deep, respectively. Hopefully, that level of shooting continues throughout the regular season.
Moorhead noted that Adebayo is using 8.3 isolations per 100 possessions, up from 5.5 isolations per 100 possessions from the past two seasons. Erik Spoelstra is a creative coach who can find how to maximize the offense when Butler returns.
These last two games from Adebayo are a great development. Ensuring Adebayo continues at this level with Butler on the floor will be the next step.