Rookies Digest: Bam Adebayo

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Bam Building his Own NBA Niche

Miami Heat’s Rookie Big Man Bam Adebayo Putting League on Notice

It’s a league centred around the three-point shot, yet, Bam Adebayo has an old school mentality to his game.

Not only does that take the spotlight off him, but so to does playing behind a star big man like Hassan Whiteside. It’s definitely a culture shock coming into the NBA from a college basketball mecca of the calibre of a Kentucky. Last year, he was a star. A top prospect in the game of basketball, playing for the prestigious Wild Cats program, orchestrated by the legendary Coach John Calipari.

“It was wonderful,” says Adebayo, referring to his experiences playing under Calipari. “He pushed you to your limits, creating that friction, but it was all out of love. Just by letting us play free ball. When we knew we had a weakness in our game, he exploited that. He made us get in the gym and get extra reps in that particular spot. It helped during the year.”

The hard work and the culture instilled on Adebayo at Kentucky all contributed to his transformation into a lottery pick. Selected 14th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2017 NBA Draft, Bam understood that the real work is yet to come.

“NBA, you play every other day, possibly back to back. NCAA you play, what? every Tuesday, Saturday. It’s just those games build up. It’s a grind,” says the rookie about his still young NBA career. “But just listen to the vets and all their stories. Some had their ups and downs. And you just got to stay ready. Just to have this opportunity is a blessing.”

After impressing at NBA Summer League, the Heat understood that the 20-year New Jersey-native was a suitable backup to Whiteside, and quite possibly a key piece to a winning puzzle of the future. Currently averaging seven-points and five-boards per game in a reserve role, Adebayo has been efficient, shooting 57.7% from the field.

Entering the NBA as part of yet another talented Kentucky class, alongside De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, the trio all turned into lottery picks.

“We’re all like brothers,” explains a humbled Adebayo. “So going into this is like man. Knowing where we started from. We knew each other from the 6th grade to now. It’s crazy and just having those years of friendship turned into a brotherhood and now going into this, looking at it now, it’s like man, we’re on different teams, but we still keep up with each other.”

As far as continuing to adjust to the NBA game, Adebayo has all the resources around him with which to succeed, including Head Coach Eric Spoelstra, and the man he’s backing up, Whiteside.

“Just staying ready is the main thing,” says Adebayo. “Hassan giving me all these vet tips and just staying positive. Playing for a coach like Spo, you can’t ask for anything more because he wants the greatest thing out of you.”

As the season goes on, getting the reps will be key for a guy like Adebayo and by playing for an organization like the Miami Heat, this will be his opportunity to turn himself into a special player for many years to come.

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