Bam Adebayo signed his rookie contract and made his Miami Heat summer league debut Saturday morning inside the Amway Center.
The Heat’s first round pick had his share of both good and bad moments in his opening game. He finished with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 33 minutes worth of work in a 74-67 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
The bad: Adebayo, who admitted he had some jittters early on, shot three airballs and collected six fouls.
The good: He displayed some slick post moves, defended the paint well at times, flashed a 17-foot jump shot and brought the ball up the court with ease after grabbing rebounds.
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All in all, he called his first pro game “fun.”
“I like the physicality,” Adebayo said. “We played hard. We just came up short. I’m a competitor, so I hate losing. So, you know, that’s the downfall for me. I just wanted to win.”
Adebayo, who was in the starting lineup alongside forward Okaro White and summer league participants London Perrantes (Virginia), Jake Odum (Indiana State) and Zak Irvin (Michigan), made a nice spin move on his way to his first basket midway through the second quarter.
“I felt like I had a motor today,” Adebayo said. “After not competing five on five for I don’t know how long, it’s good to get out there, get back into the flow.”
Later, in the third quarter, he grabbed a rebound and put the ball in the basket while being fouled. He followed it up with a pair of jumpers, scoring half of his points in the period.
At one point after nailing a jumper, he turned to the Hornets bench and exchanged some playful trash-talk with former Kentucky teammate Malik Monk, the Hornets’ first round pick who didn’t play on Saturday because of a sprained left ankle.
“It’s a Kentucky thing,” Adebayo said with a grin of his trash-talking moment with Monk. “When we meet each other, we’re going to talk trash to each other. We’re going to have fun. We’re going to smile at each other.”
Earlier in the morning Saturday at the team hotel, Adebayo signed his rookie contract.
“It’s a relief,” Adebayo said. “But it’s back to work. My mom’s getting taken care of now, but that doesn’t stop. I can’t just stop now. I’ve just got to keep pushing, keeping working hard.”
Slotted to make $2.5 million this coming season, Adebayo, who turns 20 on July 18, will likely begin his career with the Heat as a backup center to Hassan Whiteside.
He could potentially develop into more than that if his perimeter game improves. Mostly a post player at the University of Kentucky who did his damage on dunks and alley-oops, Adebayo rarely flashed much of an outside game in his one season in college.
But Heat team president Pat Riley said Adebayo made 30 of 50 three-point attempts during his pre-draft workout in Miami and coach John Calipari said Adebayo has more of an outside game than he showed in college. Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra fell in love with Adebayo’s personality and work ethic.
Saturday, he flashed some of that.
“Bam, he’s a beast,” said White, who had 20 points, eight rebounds, three blocks in Saturday’s loss. “Like I said, he’s a part of the Heat culture. I’m sure he’ll say too he felt like he didn’t play the best that he could. We’re looking forward to [Sunday’s game against the Magic at 3 p.m.].”
▪ White, the only player with NBA experience on the Heat’s summer league roster, said he’s trying to use this summer to hone his skills as a playmaker. He struggled Saturday with no assists and seven of the Heat’s 16 turnovers.
“I don’t want to compare myself to anybody, but the way James Johnson gets us into offense and is able to handle the ball atthe forward position, that’s what I’ve been working on and been working on a lot. That’s really where I want to improve.
“I think I did alright [today]. I didn’t show what I’ve been working on all summer. But, I think the good thing is we’ve got a couple more games. So the confidence my coaches have in me to go ahead and handle the ball, I’ll be able to show it in the next few games.”
▪ White said he’s very much tuned into NBA free agency and player movement and couldn’t wait to get back to his phone Saturday to see what else had happened.
“I’m keeping track 100 percent just like all of our guys,” White said. “It’s hard not to when you’re a basketball player because you go home and all you cut on is ESPN. We’re keeping track and it’s been a crazy, crazy start to it.”
MIAMI HEAT SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE
Saturday: lost to Hornets 74-67
Sunday: vs. Magic, 3 p.m. (NBA TV)
Monday: vs. Pacers, 5 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tuesday: vs. Pistons, 5 p.m. (NBA TV)
July 6: Championship round
July 7: Off
July 8: vs. Spurs, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
July 9: Off
July 10: vs. Wizards, 4:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
July 11: vs. Mavericks, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
July 12-17: Playoffs