No playoffs, no summer league, no draft to prepare for. This offseason is different for Bam Adebayo.
“I just got to play more pickup [basketball]. But other than that, it’s just … I don’t know,” Adebayo said, realizing mid-answer just how different this summer will be. “I’m learning through this new offseason, too. I’ve never had an offseason where I’m not doing summer league, I’m not doing the draft, the combine. It’s something new for me. I got to figure out my time, time management.”
Three weeks into the Heat’s offseason, Adebayo is just now starting to get back to basketball workouts following some time off after playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games this past season. The 21-year-old big man has been splitting time between Miami and his home state of North Carolina over the past few weeks.
Adebayo knows his third NBA season is important to continue the momentum he created during the final weeks of this past season, when he averaged 11.6 points on 59.7 percent shooting, 9.1 rebounds, three assists, 1.1 steals and one block during the final 23 games as the Heat’s starting center. Miami outscored opponents by 45 points with Adebayo on the court during this stretch.
And with Dwyane Wade now retired, Adebayo feels like there’s an opportunity for him to step into more of a leadership role with the Heat.
“I’m looking forward to it just because it’s another challenge for me to accomplish and it’s not just like a onetime thing,” said Adebayo, who averaged 8.9 points on 57.6 percent shooting, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes this past season.
“You got to be a leader 82 games, plus playoffs, then off the court, when we do events. I’m looking forward to that challenge just because you get to see where you’re at. How am I with my teammates? Do my teammates, when I speak, do they listen? … That’s the challenge I’m looking for.”
Adebayo is clearly not afraid of challenges. When listing his goals, he said: “I want to be a Defensive Player of the Year, I want to be All-NBA, I want a championship.”
And when asked to point to a current NBA player he feels like he could turn into one day, he brought up six-time All-Star Anthony Davis.
“I just got to work toward that goal. Just staying more aggressive, I feel like,” Adebayo said. “When a coach sees you do good things, he takes off that leash a little more, a little more. Then the next thing you know, boom you’re an All-Star.”
Adebayo plans to work out with former Kentucky teammates De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk this offseason, while also hoping to spend time on the court with MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Adebayo and Antetokounmpo share the same agent, Alex Saratsis.
“Just because we got the same agent, so it was easy to get in touch with each other,” Adebayo said of his plans to work out with Antetokounmpo this summer. “And depending on how his season goes and how much off time he takes, we can probably make that happen.”
When Adebayo is back home in North Carolina, he goes through workouts with former NBA big man Rasheed Wallace.
After two seasons with the Heat, Adebayo said he’s happy where he is.
“There are no secrets in the Miami Heat,” said Adebayo, who is due $3.5 million for 2019-20 and has $5.1 million team option in his contract for the 2020-21 season. “From the top to the bottom, everything happens for a reason. Then also, we have a simple base for our organization. They call it the culture for a reason. Once you get in it and you go somewhere else, it’s really different. So I know how we handle stuff. We want to be the hardest working, most dedicated, nastiest, that type of team in the NBA. And everybody knows that.”