Even before the season started, many believed that the Miami Heat doesn’t stand a chance for repeating the last year’s success. Erik Spoelstra and his guys won the Eastern Conference and reached the finals, where they lost to the LA Lakers in six games. Still, it was one hell of a ride for the Heat and all of their fans.
With the season starting badly for Miami, the doubters and the haters began exulting. Yet all of them forgot that the team had numerous injury problems, preventing them from playing a single match with all the superstars on the court. But once that sorted out, the East champs started pounding, and they did it hard.
Right now, the Heat sits fourth in the conference, six games behind the 76ers and the Nets, and slightly behind the Milwaukee Bucks. The bookmakers see them as fourth favorites for winning the East, with the odds set at 12/1 at most of the sportsbooks. Of course, the first candidates are the Brooklyn Nets 1/1, and how wouldn’t they be with all that superstar talent stacked on the roster. The 76ers are second, 7/2, ahead of the Bucks 5/1. After coming the Boston Celtics, 15/1, the Toronto Raptors 18/1, who are residing in Florida this year, and the Indiana Pacers 25/1.
It seems that this part of the season will be a period once Miami makes good results. Spoelstra’s crew isn’t depending on one player like most other teams, who are now struggling with fatigue and injuries. The Heat has several players who can step up and decide the game at any moment, and that makes a difference in these situations. Still, we need to say that Bam Adebayo’s influence on the court is slightly bigger than everyone else’s.
The big man averages 18.9 points with 9.5 boards and 55.6% of shooting from the field. He also has 5.5 assists and contributes massively in the defense. To be honest, the media isn’t giving enough credit to this guy. The same goes for the public and NBA fans. Adebayo is the sixth candidate to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, with odds settled at 60/1. The two-time winner Rudy Gobert is first, 4/9, and Ben Simmons from the 76ers second, 13/5. Pacers’ Myles Turner is 5/1, Joel Embiid 14/1, and the reigning winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is 22/1.
To be perfectly straight here, we don’t see that any of these guys have a bigger influence on the defense than Bam, to have that better chances to snatch the award.
Adebayo is also on the list of the favorites for the Most Improved Player of the Year award. Yet, the situation is the same as in the previous case. He is among the top ten, but far away from the top. His odds to take the trophy are 90/1. Jerami Grant and Julius Randle led the way. Detroit’s forward has the best prospects, 4/9, while Knicks’ big fella comes behind at 2/1. Christin Wood from the Rockets is 11/2, and Jaylen Brown, Celtics’ All-Star guard, is 9/1. Before Adebayo are also Zach LaVine, 22/1, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 25/1, Chris Boucher, and Collin Sexton, both at 33/1.
As usual, the Heat, as well as all of their members, are constantly facing doubt and aren’t getting the respect they should. Many would be disappointed because of such treatment, but not Miami’s players. They use the entire situation as fuel and motivation. Didn’t Jimmy Butler say on numerous occasions that if the people didn’t constantly treat him as an underdog, he would be this good? It means that Adebayo has the best possible mentor for beating all the critics and doubters before getting on top.
And it means that the Heat just might repeat last year’s success. And take one step further compared to the same.