Miami Heat

What’s the next step for Bam Adebayo? His answer and thoughts on Jimmy Butler, and more

Bam Adebayo believes he’s ready to take a big step forward in his third NBA season.

What does that next step look like? He envisions a better all-around player averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists per game this upcoming season.

Russell Westbrook, Nikola Jokic, and 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo were the only three players who finished with those averages last season.

“Just because we play through the elbows, I got a lot of assists off that action. We keep doing that, I feel like I can average 16, 10, and 5,” said Adebayo, who will hold his second annual youth basketball clinic on Saturday at Riviera Preparatory School in Kendall.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to the challenge that [coach Erik Spoelstra] is going to give me to accomplish during the season as potentially being the starting center.”

Adebayo, who turns 22 on Thursday, averaged 8.9 points on 57.6 percent shooting, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes while playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games last season.

With Miami trading center Hassan Whiteside to Portland this month as part of the four-team Jimmy Butler deal, Adebayo is expected to be the clear-cut choice at starting center.

Even with Whiteside on the roster last season, Adebayo started in 22 of the Heat’s final 23 games. Adebayo averaged 11.6 points on 59.7 percent shooting, 9.1 rebounds, three assists, 1.1 steals, and one block in that 23-game span, and Miami outscored opponents by 45 points in that time.

Other things to know from the conversation with Adebayo ...

To register for Adebayo’s youth basketball clinic, which is sponsored by Pollo Tropical, visit bamyouthclinic.eventbrite.com.

Campers will be grouped by age, with Adebayo offering tips and hands-on instruction. For those ranging from third grade to sixth grade, the clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For campers from seventh grade to 12th grade, the clinic will be from 1 to 4 p.m.

bamyouthclinic.jpg
Courtesy of OnDecker

“It was the second place I could actually put my fingerprints in the community,” Adebayo said of his decision to hold a youth camp in South Florida. “Just seeing a guy like [Udonis Haslem] going from being one of those neighborhood kids to where he is now, I feel like I can change a couple kids’ lives to become like a UD.

“The camp is fun. That’s one thing I wanted my camp to be. I never wanted my camp to be boring. I never wanted the kids being there like, ‘Look, I’m ready to go home.’ I want my camp to be fun. They learn a lot of stuff. They don’t really have to take home everything that we teach them, just one or two things that a parent sees or remembers or that a kid remembers.”

Adebayo says Butler will mesh well with the Heat.

Butler, a four-time All-Star, is known for his competitiveness — for better or for worse. He has questioned some previous teammates’ effort and commitment to winning, and that has rubbed some the wrong way.

“He’s a good fit for us,” Adebayo said of Butler. “I feel like all the young dudes that we’re developing and are becoming the core of the Miami Heat, I feel like he fits perfectly with our core. From the stories I’ve heard, he’s really intense in practice and he’s a winner and he wants to win. So I’m all for that. That’s me, that defines me. All for winning, do whatever it takes for your team, even if a couple of your teammates don’t like it and y’all got to butt heads. I feel like me and Jimmy and the core are willing to butt heads and go at it in practice just for the success of the team.”

On the other end of the four-team deal that brought Butler to Miami, the Heat had to trade wing Josh Richardson along with Whiteside. Richardson was moved to the 76ers.

Adebayo and Richardson are close friends, and Adebayo was with Richardson when news of the trade broke.

“It’s kind of like seeing your brother go to college. Seeing your big brother go to college,” Adebayo said. “... We’re still going to talk and communicate through text or FaceTime. But I’m going to always miss him. He’s always going to be my brother.”

Adebayo created somewhat of a social-media buzz when he tweeted at Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal on Friday night. “Hey Big Head,” Adebayo wrote in response to a 2012 Beal tweet that reads, “I like the Heat over anyyy team !”

Adebayo’s tweet came just weeks after a Twitter back-and-forth between Dwyane Wade and Butler, when Butler retweeted Wade with a response of, “hey big head.” Butler signed with the Heat days later.

The Heat has displayed strong interest in trading for Beal, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. But Adebayo was just trying to make people laugh with his tweet to Beal last week — nothing more.

“It was just funny because people kept mentioning me with that tweet,” Adebayo said of Beal’s tweet from 2012. “I was like, ‘What is this?’ Then I was like, ‘Oh, this is from when the Heat had the Big 3.’ It was just a little joke because I’m cool with Bradley Beal. We have our conversations, but it was just a joke.”

Wizards vice president/basketball operations Tommy Sheppard recently told The Athletic that Washington has given no thought to trading Beal.

Adebayo is still hoping to spend time on the court with Antetokounmpo this offseason. Adebayo and Antetokounmpo share the same agent, Alex Saratsis.

“It’s still a work in progress. But we’re going to get that done,” Adebayo said.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.
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