You know what was even more eye-opening than Bam Adebayo’s 26-point, 12-rebound, 6-steal, 3-block masterpiece in the Heat’s preseason game against New Orleans on Wednesday?
What Heat executive Alonzo Mourning said about him on a radio interview this week.
“I know he is going to be the best player in our organization,” Mourning told 790 The Ticket’s Brendan Tobin, Brian London and Leroy Hoard.
Mourning, the Heat’s vice president/player programs, made the comments before Adebayo dominated in 27 minutes against the Pelicans.
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“Obviously a phenomenal talent,” Mourning told The Ticket. “He came in the league at 19 years old. Sky is the limit for his potential of being the best player on this team one day, which I feel he will be really simply because of his work ethic.
“I judge a person by their work ethic. He already has the skill but his work ethic is off the charts. I know he is going to be the best player in our organization. He will lead our franchise one day to the promised land. I don’t want to put any pressure on him and all but I know based on how hard he works, how hard he works and his God given ability, we are going to raise his jersey in the rafters one day and he will lead our franchise.”
After the game Wednesday, Adebayo received a text from former NBA forward and four-time All-Star Rasheed Wallace, who worked out with Adebayo this past offseason.
“I’ve known Rasheed since 12th grade; he texted me tonight, congratulated me,” Adebayo said. “He was like, ‘Just do that moving forward.’ I consider him a Hall of Famer in my eyes. Hearing that from him and knowing he’s still looking at my game and considers me like a little brother, it makes you feel great and makes you want to make him proud. Even though he’s not here, he’s always just one call away if I ever need something. I thank him for that.”
What did he take from his summer workouts with Wallace?
“Just being more assertive and more offensive,” Adebayo said. “Just being able to play free. I feel like Spo [coach Erik Spoelstra] is letting me explore my game.”
How much better a player is Adebayo since the end of last season?
“Way better, way better,” he said. “I feel more comfortable, feel more assertive. I’m just out there having fun, playing free now.
“My teammates believe in me. My first year, it’s get in where you fit in. Now they want me to be more assertive, so that’s what I was doing.”
Adebayo’s growth validates the Heat’s reluctance to include him in a proposed trade for Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler.
Teammates have raved about his growth all summer.
“He’s a freak of nature,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said. “He’s strong, he’s fast, he can jump. He just needs to put it together. And when he does, he’s going to be unbelievable.”