Bam Adebayo has a rather simple philosophy when it comes to dunks.
“It’s a quick two points,” the 20-year-old first round pick said Thursday. “And it gets the intensity going.”
After slamming home 101 dunks last season as a freshman at Kentucky – and breaking Anthony Davis’ single-season dunk record during John Calipari’s tenure with the Wildcats – the Heat’s first round pick has gotten off to a smashing start in his first five games in the NBA.
He’s shot 10 of 22 from the field in 94 minutes worth of action – and you guessed it – all 10 of his buckets have come on dunks.
According to CBS Sports’ Dunk-O-Meter, Adebayo, 20, entered the night Thursday 16th in the league when it came to dunks.
Five of his slams have come on alley oops, three are putback slams, and two are just good old-fashioned rim rockers.
Is he trying to top the Heat’s single-season record for dunks?
“You never know,” Adebayo said. “I’m just in the right position for a dunk. When the time comes I’ll shoot a couple jumpers and hit a couple layups.”
Adebayo is actually 10 of 11 on dunk attempts this season (he missed an alley-oop slam). He’s also 0-for-7 on layups, 0-for-3 on tip shots, 0-for-3 on jumpers and 0-for-1 on hook shots.
“The more games he gets in, the more he’ll score in different ways,” center Hassan Whiteside said. “But right now it’s alley-oops and we’re going to build off that.”
Whiteside, who returned from a five-game absence against Chicago Wednesday night in Miami, said he was proud of the way Adebayo played in his absence. Adebayo made three starts and had a 13-point, 13-rebound performance in Monday’s overtime loss to the T’Wolves.
“He did great man,” Whiteside said. “He did everything coach asked him to do. He came out there played hard, played defense, rebounded and dunked.”
The Heat’s media guide only lists dunk statistics since the 1998-99 season. Last season, Hassan Whiteside had a career-high 163 dunks and backup Willie Reed had 63 of his own.
The Heat’s record (since 1998-99) for dunks in a regular season were Shaquille O’Neal’s 255 dunks in 2004-05. O’Neal is the only Heat player to have more than 200 dunks in a season.
Dwyane Wade has 1,037 career regular season dunks with the Heat, the most by any player since 1998-99.
One thing Adebayo (6-10, 255) hasn’t done yet is get on the floor at the same time as Whiteside (7-0, 265) and it doesn’t appear coach Erik Spoelstra is ready to do that just yet.
Asked Thursday after the Heat’s practice at the Pepsi Center if he’s considered playing the two together – especially when opponents line up with bigger power forwards – Spoelstra said Whiteside and Adebayo “both feel in their comfort zone at the five.”
“It’s very early in the season,” Spoelstra said. “The games will dictate it. It depends on who you play.”
Whiteside said he wouldn’t mind being on the floor at the same time as Adebayo.
“Bam, he’s been working at the four a lot,” Whiteside said. “Both of us can make outside shots. I would love to see that work out.”
Said Adebayo: “Pretty much, during the plays, we’ve got spacing. So, it’s not a real big deal.”
So now that he’s made a three-pointer in both of his games this season, should we start expecting Whiteside to make one every night?
“I hope so. I don’t mind,” James Johnson said. “He does so much, impacts the game so much. If he’s feeling confident enough to take that three then we should feel confident enough to let him take it.”
Johnson said since he joined the Heat Whiteside has always shot and made three-pointers in practice.
Are teams going to start stepping out to defend Whiteside when he takes threes?
“I hope [they don’t] the whole year,” Johnson said. “Don’t respect it. I know we do. So, let him keep his rhythm, take his time. It’s a little bit different when guys are closing out. So let’em keep sleeping, I guess.”
▪ Whiteside said his left knee felt a little sore when he woke up Thursday after playing his first game in two weeks.
“But that’s to be expected,” he said. “I’m going to keep getting treatment. It’s going to be sore for a couple days.”
Spoelstra said Whiteside’s minutes could increase Friday against the Nuggets or stay the same.
“[Let’s] see if he can handle those minutes [and play] at a high level,” Spoelstra said. “Like I said, his first seven minutes last night were outstanding. Eight rebounds before you could even blink. His energy, communication, all those were at a high level. He gave us a big time presence in the paint. So I want to build on that, whatever minutes he can sustain at that [level] we’ll try to keep him.”
▪ Johnson, who missed Wednesday’s game with knee tendinitis, said the night off helped. He’s no longer on the Heat’s injury report and is expected to play Friday.
“I feel good,” Johnson said. “I’m going to get some treatment tonight. But all in all I feel all right. I don’t know what it was. Just tendinitis, and some times that flares up.”
▪ Injured second-year forward Rodney McGruder, who had surgery on his left leg last month to repair a stress fracture, decided to come on the team’s 11-day, six-game road trip.
McGruder said last week he wasn’t sure if he would make it. He’s wearing a walking boot now and is no longer on crutches.
He told The Herald last week he still doesn’t have a timeline for a return, but is still hoping to come back and play this season.
Highest dunk totals in the regular season in Heat history (since 1998-99)
1. Shaquille O’Neal 255 (2004-05)
2. Shaquille O’Neal 202 (2005-06)
3. Alonzo Mourning 169 (1999-00)
4. Hassan Whiteside 163 (2016-17)
5. Dwyane Wade 154 (2005-06)
6. Hassan Whiteside 147 (2015-16)
7. LeBron James 143 (2012-13)
8. Alonzo Mourning 135 (2001-02)
9. LeBron James 134 (2013-14)
10. Dwyane Wade 128 (2008-09)