It is easy to forget that Bam Adebayo is still only 26 years old.
After all, at the age of 23, he was already the starting center for the Miami Heat when they made it all the way to the NBA Finals back in 2020. That was just Adebayo’s third season in the league and his first as a full-time starter. He was also named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career that year and has not looked back since.
Now in his seventh campaign in the NBA, Adebayo, who has consistently increased his scoring average in the five seasons since his rookie year, looks like he is on track to bump up that number to six in ‘23-’24.
The recent play of the two-time NBA All-Star is the primary reason why the Heat have recovered from their 1-4 start to the season as he has put up gaudy numbers to lead the team. Miami is currently on a three-game winning streak which has brought them back to .500 with a 4-4 record.
The 6’9 center kicked off this run with a rather pedestrian 18-point outing in their win over the Washington Wizards before he put on one of the finest performances of his career in their one-point victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. Adebayo tallied 22 points, one three-pointer, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and two blocks to beat the Lakers while he also played what has become his typical excellent defense against eight-time NBA All-Star Anthony Davis.
Adebayo’s momentum from their win versus Los Angeles continued two nights later where he towed the Heat to a 108-102 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The 14th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft scored 30 points on an efficient eight-of-15 field goal shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, collected one steal, and blocked three shots, but the most notable part of his evening was that he earned 16 free throw attempts and converted 14 of them.
The fact that Adebayo did this while reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. was defending him made it even more impressive and highlights the growth that he has displayed so far this season. He has taken a career-best 8.1 free throw attempts over Miami’s first seven games in this campaign which is a significant jump from his 5.4 attempts last year.
The increase in Adebayo’s assertiveness on offense is the reason for this significant bump in his free throw attempts and it is crucial for the Heat that he maintains this for the whole season. Miami needs him to blossom into a consistent two-way superstar if they are to remain competitive in an Eastern Conference that grows tougher by the day. Adebayo is off to a great start, yet what is most important for the Heat is that this hot streak can turn into the norm for him.
With the recent ankle injury suffered by Tyler Herro expected to keep him out for at least the next two weeks, Adebayo will have every opportunity to build on this run as Miami continues on their four-game road trip. It may feel like this former Kentucky Wildcat has already been in the league for ages, but the truth of the matter is that he is only getting started which bodes well for the future of the Heat.