Heat Check

Bam! Heat takes Kentucky’s high-flying big man Adebayo with 14th pick

Bam Adebayo walks on stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted 14th overall by the Miami Heat during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City.
Bam Adebayo walks on stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted 14th overall by the Miami Heat during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. Getty Images

He got the nickname “Bam” when he was 1 after he flipped over a coffee table while watching “The Flintstones.”

The Miami Heat isn’t going to need Kentucky high-flying big man Edrice “Bam” Adebayo to move any furniture, but they’re hoping he can help Hassan Whiteside form one of the fiercest frontcourts in the NBA.

Miami took the 6-10, 243-pound Adebayo with the 14th pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, a move clearly designed to help make up for the loss of 11-time All-Star Chris Bosh – and potentially backup center Willie Reed should he bolt in free agency.

“You know, I bring athleticism. I bring defense. I bring energy,” Adebayo told reporters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn of what he can bring the Heat moments after Pat Riley selected him with North Carolina swingman Justin Jackson, UCLA stretch four TJ Leaf and other players who worked out in Miami still on the board.

“It’s going to be incredible,” Adebayo continued. “It’s going to be fun. I’m a rookie, but I’m looking forward to it. Having Hassan Whiteside on my side, it’s a plus for me. I feel like we can get every rebound, get more stops. You know, we bring a lot of energy.”

Adebayo, who turns 20 on July 18, averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 30.1 minutes per game in his one season at Kentucky. Though he’s not a three-point shooter, he converted 60.1 percent of his shots from the field and was dominating around the rim.

In addition to a 38 1/2 inch vertical, Adebayo is also blessed with a 7-foot, 3-inch wingspan.

“He dunks on the way up,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “His dunks were powerful. He’s powerful. He’s physical. He’s tough. He’s got really good hands. He’s got excellent feet. When he sets a screen, the guy he’s screening stays screened and then he rolls to the basket. You can throw it up to him and he’s going to powerfully dunk that thing through. He dunks everything.

“Everything he did in college was basically around the basket. He was more of a limited jump shooter and he shot the ball behind his head a little bit. But he reportedly shot the ball very well in a couple workouts. He’s a very good defender who can block shots. Bam Adebayo is a good player with a Dwight Howard type body.”

Adebayo, who worked out at the Heat’s facilities on June 8, was projected in most mock drafts to go after the 14th pick. But the Heat, which liked Duke sharpshooter Luke Kennard and Louisville combo guard Donovan Mitchell, saw both of those players get plucked by the Detroit Pistons and then the Utah Jazz, who traded with Denver to move up to the 13th pick.

“I’m ready to get started,” Adebayo said. “I’m ready to get in that Heat jersey.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari said he felt Adebayo went to the right team. He also said Adebayo has more range than he showed in college.

“He went to a team that’s going to develop him,” ESPN’s Jalen Rose said. “You put him alongside Whiteside and you’ve seen how he’s grown as a player. I really like this for the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference where usually the four-man is undersized.”

Adebayo said he can knock down shots from 15 to 17 feet and models his game after 15-time All-Star Kevin Garnett.

“I’ve always wanted to be like KG,” Adebayo said. “I looked at it like this [at Kentucky], who would you rather see shoot shots from 15 or 17 feet? Me or Malik [Monk]? I was cool with giving up something I was capable of doing for the better of the team.”

Adebayo is slotted to make $2.5 million next season and will be under team control for five seasons.

His role has yet to be determined, but he should immediately be able to play some minutes at center as a backup to Whiteside. Last season, Reed flourished as Whiteside’s backup averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 14.5 minutes.

Adebayo joins a Heat roster with eight players under contract for next season: Whiteside ($23.8 million), point Goran Dragic ($17 million), Josh McRoberts ($6 million), Tyler Johnson ($5.9 million), Justise Winslow ($2.7 million, even though his salary is $3.5 million), Josh Richardson ($1.5 million), Rodney McGruder ($1.3 million), Okaro White ($1.3 million).

Miami also has until July 7 to re-sign Wayne Ellington for $6.3 million if it so chooses.

Late Wednesday night, news broke that the NBA cap for next season will be $99 million, about $2 million less than projected.

With the Heat holding $64.4 million in 2017-18 salary cap commitments (following the impending release and cap-clearing of Bosh’s contract), that leaves Miami with $34.6 million in cap space to go after their own free agents (Dion Waiters and James Johnson) or Jazz All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward or Clippers All-Star power forward Blake Griffin.

The first-year max salaries for Hayward and Griffin would be $29.7 million.

Miami is expected to make a hard charge at Hayward.


Height: 6-9 3/4

Weight: 243

Wingspan: 7-2 3/4

Vertical: 38.5

Related stories from Miami Herald