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Bam Adebayo: Balancing Lowry Enhancements and Pure Takeover
Bam Adebayo: Balancing Lowry Enhancements and Pure Takeover
Jul 18, 2024 1:12 PM

When evaluating the development of Bam Adebayo, it’s pretty incredible to see a guy make a complete jump in one statistical area year after year. The most notable ones occurred over the last two seasons, jumping from 9 points a game to 16 points a game in his third season before going on to make an NBA Finals run in the bubble.

The second one displayed itself this past year, while even though he went from 16 to 19 points a game, it was much more about how he was getting those points. After entering the league as an effective rim runner, he flipped the switch into a true shooting threat from the mid-range area.

Now, he leaves us making predictions on what is next in his NBA progression.

The Heat adding Kyle Lowry is the first sticking point for Adebayo’s future, since it’ll be the first time he lines up next to a true point guard on this Miami team. A play-maker who can get him the ball in his comfort spots, float it up above the rim as a lob threat once again, and ultimately control the offense around him.

As much as that stuff will be absolutely huge for his offensive game, there is a specific balance that must be a primary focus.

When watching Adebayo this past season, there was one part of his game that the public knew we needed to see more of: aggression. Not only in terms of shot attempts, but taking advantage of favorable match-ups that he can 100% take off the dribble to create his own shot for a bucket.

That’s the balance to keep an eye on.

Of course his role will be a very big mix this season, which won’t be the case for a lot of guys. Guys like Kyle Lowry will either be distributing at the top/getting Miami into their actions or spotting up off the ball. Jimmy Butler will have a lighter load, meaning he can just worry about the things he does very well. And Tyler Herro will have a simplified agenda to just get buckets off the bench.

Adebayo, on the other hand, will be flying in a whole bunch of directions, which is exactly what he needs. Yes, he’s going to get many more easy opportunities with an extra play-maker and downhill threat, but there must be an overarching theme to be an on-ball pest as well.

Lowry and Butler aren’t getting any younger, so Adebayo taking control as an offensive threat in the regular season will be urged from those veterans. None of this means his play-making will take a dip in any fashion, since his unselfishness will never fade, but there must be that confident swagger that “I can score when I want.”

As I’ve brought up many times in the past, Butler will be urging this as well. As he said when I asked him about Adebayo’s hot scoring stretches, “He’s damn near unguardable whenever he’s playing like that.”

The reason for that is it creates a rotational frenzy on the defense, which Butler quickly followed with. Adding another driving threat in Lowry, while knocking Adebayo up a tier in that sense shifts this entire discussion. Duncan Robinson, Herro, and Lowry will hit threes, but that interior element changes a whole lot about this team’s offensive structure.

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Will Adebayo be able to immediately balance what is being thrown at him? I believe so, since it would be more worrisome if he had less on his plate. Giving him multiple options as teammates, different avenues as a scorer, and an improved offensive bag are all indications that he can be in line for yet another leap.

It’s just up to him to do it. Many have said the potential of this team depends on the health of Victor Oladipo, but I believe it’s actually the level Adebayo is playing at. Of course he will be a DPOY candidate and a good offensive weapon, but him increasing his aggression levels takes this team from being a very good playoff team to an immediate Eastern Conference contender.

And well, that’s why he has “no ceiling.”

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