Miami Heat center, Bam Adebayo, is off to a slow start in the team’s first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. He has shot 34.6 percent from the field over the first two games on 13 shot attempts per game, scoring 12.5 points.
Adebayo’s statistics are far below his season average as he converted 57 percent of his shots during the regular season on 12.5 field goals per game, scoring 18.7 points. The decline in production is related to the Bucks’ defensive system being tailor-made to stop his strengths.
Throughout his career, a significant portion of Adebayo’s offensive production has come from transition and as a roll man. Adebayo has shot 63.8 percent in transition over his first four regular seasons on 0.9 shots per game. The field goal percentage enables him to average 1.6 points per game: 12.7 percent of his scoring output.
Let’s take a look at why shooting 3-pointers is the easiest way for Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo to be more assertive vs Bucks
Adebayo has been able to complement his transition production with being successful as a roll man. Adebayo has shot 62 percent from the field as a roll man during his first four regular seasons on 1.8 shots per game. The shooting percentage helped him average 2.7 points per game, 21.8 percent of his scoring output.
Unfortunately, most of his shots in transition and as a roll man came from inside 10 feet. Adebayo has averaged 6.4 shots per game during the regular season inside 10 feet. It accounted for 76.2 percent of his total field goals.
Adebayo has been able to capitalize on those shots inside 10 feet as he has converted 62.5 percent of them. Sadly, the Milwaukee Bucks are suited to stop this type of player as they run a defensive system meant to protect the basket. The Bucks typically place at least two to three players below the free-throw line to ensure that opposing players have difficulty getting a good look at the basket.
Over the past three regular seasons, the Bucks have held opponents to 58.1 percent shooting inside the restricted area on 24.4 shots per game. Their defensive success inside the restricted area has been the catalyst behind them being in the top five in opponents’ points in the paint in the past three regular seasons, allowing opposing teams to only average 41.3 points.
The Bucks’ defensive philosophy has prevented Adebayo from getting quality looks at the basket as 53.8 percent of his shots during the series have been contested, averaging 7 per game. He has only been able to convert 42.9 percent of those attempts.
Adebayo’s struggles have led his teammates to express that he needs to assert himself more during the series. Goran Dragic told the media after Game 1 that Bam Adebayo has to be more aggressive. Although the Heat players want Bam Adebayo to be more aggressive, it’s going to be hard for him to do so with his style of play.
The easiest way for Bam to be more productive is to exploit the weaknesses in the Bucks’ defensive system. The Bucks tend to allow opposing teams to shoot a lot of threes because their defenders don’t have time to get back to the 3-point line to contest a shot properly.
Therefore, opponents have averaged 37.5 threes per game over the past three seasons against Milwaukee. Opponents have been able to convert 37.3 percent of those threes, creating 41.9 points per game.
Although Bam Adebayo has rarely shot a three in games throughout his career, there has been evidence that he might be able to shoot threes against the Bucks. Bam Adebayo made 52 percent of his threes during a pre-draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets in 2017 on 25 unguarded attempts.
He also has been shooting threes during the offseason in pick-up games. Those two instances haven’t been the only evidence to suggest that Adebayo can make the threes. Jimmy Butler and Adebayo made a friendly $500 wager centered around Adebayo shooting a three last season in a game against the Washington Wizards.
If he attempted a three, Butler would give him $500, but if he didn’t, he owed Butler $500. He decided not to, so he had to pay Butler the $500. Therefore, it is a good time for Adebayo to see if he can make threes in games as he has in out-of-game competition.
This is because the Milwaukee Bucks’ defensive system has contributed to their big men not wanting to leave the paint at any moment. Brook Lopez decided to stay five feet away from the basket for most of a possession, mid-way through the first quarter in Game 2.
Consequently, Miami Heat backup center, Dewayne Dedmon, shot and made an uncontested three from the top of the key. If Adebayo incorporates threes into his game for the rest of the series, one of three things will happen.
He either will miss all of his attempts, and Brook Lopez will stay near the basket, he will make some of his attempts forcing Lopez to come further out, or he will make the majority of his shots, forcing Brook Lopez to come to him.
If the third scenario occurs, it will open up the paint for his teammates as there will be one less body to deal with in the paint. Opening up the floor for his teammates will be especially beneficial for Butler as 34.8 percent of his scoring output has come from the restricted area over the past two seasons: averaging 7.2 points per game.
In conclusion, Adebayo should incorporate three’s into his game because how he is approaching the game at the current moment is not working, and he needs to try a new approach.