MIAMI — Bam Adebayo is thankful.
The 20-year-old knows the playing time he’s getting early in his rookie season can’t be taken for granted. Adebayo ranks 11th among players 20 years old or younger in minutes played per game (20.2).
Adebayo, who was selected with the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft, made the most of his minutes in Miami’s 125-122 overtime loss to Minnesota on Monday. The 6-foot-10 Adebayo made his third consecutive start in place of injured center Hassan Whiteside and recorded his first NBA double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds in a career-high 31 minutes.
“I feel like my mind is starting to slow down,” Adebayo said after the performance. “I’m not going too fast, I’m starting to pace myself. Coach is allowing me to get all these minutes. I thank him for it because he believes in me just like I believe in me and my team.”
Look closer at Adebayo’s impressive stat line, and one number sticks out with 10 of his 13 rebounds coming on the offensive end.
“Bam was huge,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said. “He was all over those boards on defense and we feel like he defended sometimes really well. Even on offense he got a lot of offensive rebounds, tip-ins. It helps.”
Adebayo still has plenty of room to grow offensively, as his game has been pretty one-dimensional to start the season. Each of his nine field goals made have come on dunks, with five of those dunks coming on alley-oops, but he’s 0-of-5 on shots outside of the restricted area.
But the progress, even in this short three-game stretch, has been evident. Before Monday’s double-double, Adebayo had combined to score 10 points and grab 11 rebounds in his previous three games this season.
Adebayo is now averaging 5.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks through the Heat’s first six games.
The offensive numbers don’t tell the full story, though. Adebayo has defended four post-ups this season and opponents are shooting 0-of-3 with one turnover on those four possessions.
The question is, has Adebayo done enough to earn a consistent spot in the Heat’s rotation when Whiteside returns from injury? Aside from Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson are still ahead of Adebayo on the frontcourt depth chart.
“He’s been doing this in training camp,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Adebayo’s strong performance Monday. “I talk about this with our team all the time. Make us watch you in practice, then make us play you to where it’s unanimous where it’s not just the staff or the head coach, but the players want you out there. He’s been extremely consistent with his approach. It’s refreshing to see a five-star recruit, an AAU kid, who goes to college for one year, but has so many great habits. He has a work ethic and an approach to the game that’s very serious.”