You have to love Bam.
Not just his name, but his personality too. Bam is a player who smiles more than most and makes friends quickly. Personally, I love his game too. The 6’10” 243 lb. prospect is no do-it-all big man. In fact, he’s a specialist. The Kentucky Wildcat does just a few things, but he does them very, very well.
One of the biggest issues for the Indiana Pacers last season was rebounding as they ranked 26th in the league in rebounds per game. Adebayo would improve the team’s rebounding immediately, even if it were from the second unit.
In his lone season at the University of Kentucky, Adebayo averaged 14.3 rebounds per 100 possessions. This would rank as the second highest total on the Pacers roster behind Al Jefferson (14.9).
Bam’s offensive game is limited, but his size and strength make him dominate near the basket. He will try and dunk almost everything, which is a big reason why he posted a true shooting percentage of 62.4% (4th in the SEC) and an offensive rating of 126.3 (1st in the SEC).
His athleticism allows him to be a lob target, which is best utilized in pick and roll scenarios. Yet his strength and power also allow him to dunk while being defended in the post.
According to his draft workout interviews, Adebayo believes he is a better shooter than most give him credit for. However, he did not prove to be consistent in the mid-range last season.
At 6’10” 243 lbs., Adebayo is a force inside. He’s tough to back down in the post, and his 7’3” wingspan allowed him to block 1.5 shots per game. Yet, he’s extremely mobile. His lateral quickness is impressive, and he was able to switch 1-5 at Kentucky last season.
Here is DraftExpress.com’s comprehensive video breakdown of Bam Adebayo’s strengths.
While Adebayo has loads of raw talent, most areas of his game need development.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bam struggles to stretch the floor. Although he is improving his jumper, Bam shot just 13 mid-range attempts last season per DraftExpress. He only made 3. In addition to an unproven mid-range game, Adebayo posted a FT% of 65.3%.
Adebayo would struggle to fit next to another big who operates around the basket (i.e. Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin). This would crowd the lane much like we’ve seen with the second unit big man rotation of Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin, and Lavoy Allen.
Yet it’s not just his jumper that needs work, Bam lacks craftiness around the rim and showed struggles with his left hand last season.
On the defensive end, Adebayo has the tools to succeed. While he defends well on the ball, his defensive IQ must improve. Adebayo can be slow to rotate from the weak side, which allows for easy buckets by the opponent.
Bam also tends to take poor angles when hedging screens. In the pick and roll, Bam struggles to slow down the ball handler by either not hedging at all or not cutting him off.
Here is DraftExpress.com’s scouting video on Adebayo’s weaknesses.
Assuming the Pacers maintain the bulk of their current roster, Bam Adebayo would not make a lot of sense at the 18th overall pick. Nate McMillan already has two backup bigs in Kevin Seraphin and Al Jefferson. While I think Adebayo has the size and athleticism to play the power forward position, his fit next to either one of those players makes little sense as well.
However, the Pacers may not maintain the bulk of their current roster.
Given the Paul George rumors, possible departure of C.J. Miles, and large offers that Jeff Teague is likely to receive, President Kevin Pritchard may have to begin his new job with a rebuild.
Should this be the route the Pacers’ front office takes, Bam Adebayo would compliment Myles Turner well long-term. Adebayo’s inside presence coupled with Turner’s shooting ability would allow each to play to their strengths. Defensively, Turner and Adebayo would have the potential to grow into a defensive duo.
The 2017 NBA Draft is June 22nd at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.