MIAMI — Need a reminder that Bam Adebayo is a 20-year-old rookie?
Take a look at Adebayo’s performance in Monday’s 109-106 preseason win over the Hornets. Coach Erik Spoelstra turned to Adebayo in the first half for the first time this preseason, and he wasn’t ready to enter the game.
“I was, honestly,” Adebayo said when asked if he was surprised to get in the game in the first half. “Because I was in the back of the huddle talking to UD (Udonis Haslem) about something that happened. He was like ‘Bam, coach Spo wants you up.'”
Adebayo’s first-half stint lasted just 3 minutes and 8 seconds. Matched up against Hornets center Dwight Howard — a player he’s been compared to — Adebayo committed three quick fouls and the Heat were outscored by 10 points during this quick first-half stretch.
“The biggest lesson right there is you always have to be ready,” Spoelstra said of Adebayo’s first-half play. “I don’t think he thought he was going to go in in the first half. Just the flow of these preseason games when those guys have gotten in, it’s been the last six minutes of the fourth quarter when I just make wholesale changes.
“But that’s the life of a young player trying to break in. And the Tyler Johnsons, the Josh Richardsons, and the Rodney McGruders know that world very well. You don’t play for a couple weeks — two or three weeks if not more — then all of a sudden, boom, coach throws you in there in the second quarter. And yes, you’re expected to know what’s going on and be productive in those minutes.”
Adebayo, who was selected by the Heat with the 14th overall pick, finished Monday’s game with zero points on 0-of-4 shooting, two rebounds, one steal and one block in a preseason-high eight minutes.
As expected, Adebayo has shown flashes of potential while proving there’s still plenty of room for improvement this preseason. In four games, he’s averaging 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 6.6 minutes.
“It’s a learning experience, you know,” Adebayo said of Monday’s performance. “This is what our fourth game? I’m just going to keep building, keep getting better.”