If Bam Adebayo can stay healthy, he has one of the best chances to win Defensive Player of the Year
It’s no secret that the amount of games played is key for any player who wants to be truly considered for any regular season award. For the majority of last season, Bam Adebayo was one of the best defenders in the NBA, but he appeared in only 56 games. That was a big reason that it was hard for voters to give him the Defensive Player of the Year mantle.
However, next season is a fresh start and Adebayo will be at the forefront of the Defensive Player of the Year Award discussion again. Adebayo is currently tied with Boston Celtics center Robert Williams for the second-best odds on FanDuel to win the award at +750, while Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has the best odds at +550.
The Adebayo Effect
His impact on the defensive end can not be understated. Adebayo has been one of the most versatile centers defensively in the last few years and is arguably the Heat’s most important defender. He’s one of the biggest reasons that the Heat had the fourth-best regular season defensive rating (108.4) and the third-best (107) in the playoffs.
Adebayo averaged 0.8 blocks a game last season, so he doesn’t provide the rim protection like Gobert and Williams, but his aforementioned versatility makes it more of a challenge for guards to blow right past him. Since being named the full-time starting center for the Heat in 2018, he’s displayed that he’s one of the best defensive players in the league.
In the last three years, Adebayo has finished in the top-five of the Defensive Player of the Year voting all three years. However, he didn’t finish as a finalist last season and Adebayo was blindsided by the news when a reporter gave him the news first.
“Disrespectful… I can do anything those other guys can do,” Adebayo said.
It’s mostly true. He can do a lot of what the players that finished in front of him can do, and can even do things that they simply can’t. But he missed 26 games and that played a big part in the voters decision. The winner of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, Marcus Smart, appeared in 15 more games and was a vital part to the Celtics’ mid-season turnaround.
Adebayo’s outlook for 2022-2023
Unless the Heat pull off a historic trade and move on from Adebayo, he’s going to be the defensive anchor for one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. As a result, Adebayo’s name will be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.
The Heat did lose a big part in their defense in P.J. Tucker, so Adebayo and Jimmy Butler will have less room for error next season. But Adebayo will also have the job of taking on a bigger offensive role.
Adebayo had four underwhelming offensive games against the Celtics in the playoffs and will need to show that he’s ready to take on a bigger offensive role on a bigger stage. If Adebayo can round out his offensive game, his value and impact on both sides will be comparable to few.
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