As the NBA playoffs approach, the competition for regular-season honors and awards is heating up. Players are making their case for everything from the scoring title to league MVP.
On Tuesday night, Miami Heat center, Bam Adebayo, used his postgame interview with TNT’s Dwyane Wade to steak his claim for Defensive Player of the Year.
Bam Adebayo is having a great year defensively
Adebayo, the fourth-year big man out of Kentucky, is a do-it-all defender for the Heat. He is having a great all-around defensive season, and the statistics back it up. The 6’9” Adebayo is 13th in the league in defensive rebounds, 23rd in both steal and blocks, and 9th in both defensive box plus/minus and defensive win shares.
Adebayo is a player with great defensive ability and versatility. He can guard three positions on the court and competently switch on to guards while defending screens. The best stat that illustrates his all-around defensive capability is that Adebayo is one of just seven players in the NBA right now averaging at least 1.0 steals and blocks per game.
Adebayo is not too shabby on the offensive side of the ball either. In the 2020-21 season, he is averaging 18.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. His ability on both sides of the court is what gets him to 21st in the league in PER at 22.8.
Is it enough to get him DPOY, though?
Adebayo faces stiff competition for Defensive Player of the Year
The problem with Adebayo’s case is the loaded field for DPOY in 2021. The other top candidates are all (mostly) better-known NBA superstars on teams with better records than the Heat.
The Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert is a frontrunner for the award, as are a pair of Philadelphia 76er teammates in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The reigning DPOY, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, is in the mix as well.
Simmons and Antetokounmpo are among the seven players who average more than a steal and block per game. Gobert leads the league in blocks, defensive rebounds, defensive win shares, and defensive rating, while Embiid leads the league in PER and anchors the vaunted Sixers defense that gives up the 5th fewest amount of points.
This will be one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory to decide DPOY.
Adebayo made a simple but compelling case for the award to Dwyane Wade on TNT
Following the Heat’s 129-121 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, Adebayo donned the headphones for a postgame interview with the TNT studio crew. The interview mainly consisted of Adebayo and his former teammate, Wade, joking around about haircuts and who is worse at texting people back.
The interview took a turn though when Adebayo abruptly changed the subject. Wade was once again talking about Adebayo’s hair, and in response, the big man said his haircut, “is getting me Defensive Player of the Year, though. Let’s Talk about that.”
The television studio personalities excitedly took the bait and asked Adebayo to talk about it. In response, he let out a big laugh and simply said, “I do everything on defense. And I’m going to walk out on that one,” before taking off the headphones and walking off.
Adebayo may not win the Defensive Player of the Year Award when it’s all said and done, but he certainly made his case for the award in style.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference