MIAMI — This offseason will be important for Bam Adebayo, and he plans to make the most of it.
“The summer is all about working,” Adebayo said after Tuesday’s season-ending loss in Philadelphia. “So this summer, I’m just going to get in the gym. I’m going to be prepared even more than this year.”
Adebayo, 20, just finished a promising rookie season that included a consistent role in the Heat’s rotation and a few eye-opening performances that he will try to build on this summer. He averaged 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 69 regular-season games (19 starts).
But his most impressive work came on the defensive end, where he limited those he was guarding to 52.2 percent shooting from within six feet of the basket — 9.4 percent worse than their normal shooting percentage within that range.
Adebayo even showed off his ability to switch on smaller players and keep them in front of him as a 6-foot-10 defender. Athleticism paired with a 7-foot-3 wingspan allowed him to switch onto All-Star perimeter players like Jimmy Butler, LeBron James and Stephen Curry and stop them.
There is at least one question about Adebayo, though, that wasn’t answered this season — is he a center or power forward? According to Basketball-Reference, Adebayo spent 96 percent of his minutes at center and just four percent at power forward as a rookie.
“Man, I’m a basketball player, pretty much,” Adebayo said when asked if he sees himself as a center or power forward. “I just go out there and do what I got to do with this team. Whatever coach needs me to do, I do.”
Adebayo still has a lot of room for improvement on offense. Just 28 of his 174 made field goals this season came from outside the restricted area, as he relied on dunks for most of his points.
Adebayo shot 11-of-40 (27.5 percent) from outside the paint. But he also flashed the potential to be more than just a paint player with two six-assist performances, Eurosteps in transition and smooth shooting mechanics.
Offensively, Adebayo will continue to work on his “post game every day and jump shots.”
“Our staff does a great job of helping us with everything, so I can’t say one particular thing,” he said when asked what he will work on this offseason. “You know, [assistant coaches Juwan Howard and Chris Quinn], they’re in the gym with us every day, so I would have to say everything.”
With starting center Hassan Whiteside’s future with the Heat uncertain after a season that included diminished playing time and stats for the team’s highest-paid player, Adebayo could be promoted to a bigger role if a change is made.
Adebayo is set to make $3.0 million in 2018-19, which is the second year of his rookie-scale contract. The Heat then have a team option in years three (2019-20) and four (2020-21) of his contract.
“The experience,” Adebayo said of what stands out about his rookie season “We had a great group of guys. We went out there and fought for each other like we were really brothers and we developed a brotherhood, D-Wade coming back and he just helped us from there. And with [Udonis Haslem], they’ve been to three championships, so they know what it’s like. So for us to go out like this … speechless. But I had a great time just being beside U.D., D-Wade and all my teammates. I had fun this year.”
Plus, living in Miami helps, too.
“I love this city,” he said. “I could be any place and it’s cold right now. But I’m thankful to be here. Pat [Riley] saw something in me in my pre-draft workout. I’m glad he did and I’m glad he drafted me.”