Mailbag: Will crowded Heat frontcourt continue to limit rookie Bam Adebayo’s playing time?

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) goes to the basket between Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio (3) and center Ekpe Udoh (33) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also e-mail me at achiang@pbpost.com.

@BryanIsTheKing: Why did Bam Adebayo only play seven minutes against the Jazz? Is this the norm going forward? He’s averaged 12 minutes since James Johnson came back. What’s the point in drafting a guy just to not play him?

Anthony Chiang: First, let’s point out that rookie Bam Adebayo is playing more this season than most expected. He’s averaging 19.1 minutes in 30 of the Heat’s 39 games. Think about those numbers and then think about the fact that coach Erik Spoelstra brought up the possibility before the season of sending Bam to the G League for consistent playing time. Bam is playing a bigger role as a rookie than expected. Period. Yes, Hassan Whiteside’s injury issues have a lot to do with that. But, what did you expect entering the season? The Heat’s starting frontcourt was always going to be some combination of Hassan and either Kelly Olynyk, Justise Winslow or James Johnson. That leaves Bam in a bench role behind those guys. And with 96 minutes per game to split between the power forward and center positions, the math has to add up. Since James returned from injury, Hassan is averaging 22.1 minutes, James is averaging 27.7 and Kelly is averaging 34.3 over the past three games. As you can see, that trio is accounting for 84.1 minutes per game recently. That leaves Bam with 12 minutes to work with. So as long as everybody is healthy and available, this is the new normal for the 20-year-old.

@CagerKJ: Are there any other teams in the NBA that have as many diamonds in the rough on their roster as the Heat do?

Anthony Chiang: Teams with better players? Yes. Teams with as many diamonds in the rough? Probably not, because that’s what this Heat team is. Miami doesn’t feature an All-Star, but somehow it is 22-17 and alone in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Just look at the roster and you can single out guys like second-round pick Josh Richardson, NBA journeymen Wayne Ellington and James Johnson, former NBA outcast Hassan Whiteside or even the improving Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Johnson as players who can be labeled “diamonds in the rough.” A roster full of this type of player usually isn’t good enough to win a championship, but it looks like it’s good enough to compete for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

[RELATED: The Post’s exclusive photos from Sunday’s win over the Jazz]

[Video: We talk Richardson, Whiteside and playoffs? – Yes, we’re talking playoffs! – after Heat’s 11th victory in 15 games]

[Heat 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington was crucial part of Josh Richardson’s game-winner. … as decoy]

[Heat continue to overcome adversity, make most of opportunities while rising in Eastern Conference standings]

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