Heat first-round pick Bam Adebayo dominates with 29 points, 11 rebounds and a Eurostep vs. Pacers

ORLANDO — Summer league games give teams a chance to experiment. A chance to give players opportunities that won’t be there once the regular season begins.

Just look at Heat first-round pick Bam Adebayo. The 19-year-old is attempting 15 shots per contest over Miami’s first three summer league games, which is double the 7.5 shots he averaged in his only season at Kentucky.

“As part of summer league, he’s obviously one of the feature guys,” Heat assistant and head summer league coach Chris Quinn said of Adebayo. “His shooting, you can see it, it’s not broken. It’s something maybe he hasn’t been asked to do in the past. But we’re giving him the freedom to get the ball down low, to make plays for us. At the end of the day, we want him rebounding, we want him defending. Those will be the things we focus on the most.”

Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo (13) shoots over Indiana Pacers’ Jarnell Stokes (19) during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Monday, July 3, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The results have been encouraging so far, as Adebayo is averaging 19.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks through three games. His best performance came Monday when he recorded 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, 11 rebounds and two blocks in a 86-83 loss to the Pacers.

“He was what we like to say 1 percent better,”Quinn said of Adebayo’s performance Monday. “I thought he did a great job, a much better job of rolling to the basket. We were able to get him some easier looks that way and also get him to the foul line. They had some big physical guys down there and he responded well to that.”

Monday’s impressive performance from Adebayo even included two Eurostep moves in transition that resulted in a made layup and a foul that sent him to the line for two free throws. That type of athleticism at 6-foot-10 is one of the reasons the Heat selected the forward/center with the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft.

“Well, it’s something we’ve worked on with him already,” Quinn said of Adebayo’s ability to finish in transition. “He has a skill set. He has an ability to do that. It can be a big asset if you have a big that can get a rebound, outlet and then bust up the court, get you in a different situation. The one time he got in isolation he eurostepped. So, it’s definitely something he’s been working on and we’ll continue to work on.”

Along with showing off an offensive skill set that was overshadowed by fellow first-round picks De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk at Kentucky, Adebayo has proven to be an above average rebounder and defender over the first few days of summer league. He’s averaging 5.3 offensive rebounds per game and showed his versatility on defense Sunday when matched up against Magic small-ball center Jonathan Isaac, who was the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft.

This is important because taking 15 shots per game won’t be part of Adebayo’s role as a Heat rookie when the real games begin. He’ll be asked to be a rebounder and strong versatile defender off the Heat’s bench.

“Athletically and energetically, he’s a beast for a 19-year-old,” Quinn said. “Obviously we’re going to ask even more from him. Can he get one more rebound? Can he get one more block shot? How many extra efforts can you make that impact winning? That’s what we’re going to need this coming season.”

It hasn’t taken long for Adebayo to show flashes of the potential to become a big man who can stretch the floor. In his summer league debut Saturday against the Hornets, Adebayo’s mechanics looked smooth as he made a face-up post jumper, a baseline fadeaway jumper and an elbow jumper.

“Pat [Riley] and them said they were going to let me not be in a box,” Adebato said. “In summer league I’m playing free. I’m having fun.”

Adebayo’s free-throw shooting has been another encouraging sign. He’s made 21-of-28 free throws (75 percent) through three games after shooting 65.3 percent from the line at Kentucky last season.

“We’re asking Bam and him to do a lot,” Quinn said of Adebayo and Okaro White, who was given the day off Monday. “We’re putting the ball in those guys’ hands and asking them to make plays and asking them to do a lot for us. So I think it’s all great development for them. At the end of the day, those guys’ development is one of our biggest priorities.”

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