Leading up to June’s NBA Draft, I spent countless hours and sleepless nights looking at film of a plethora of NBA Draft prospects. One of those players included former high school stud and current Bucks rookie Thon Maker, whom I had mixed feelings about prior to his selection. While a lot of my attention was obviously on Maker, there was one prospect that really caught my eye: Bam Adebayo.
Adebayo initially caught my eye during the 2015 Fab 48 tournament. During that tournament, Maker’s Canada Elite took on an NC Loaded squad that featured Dennis Smith and Adebayo. It didn’t took long for Adebayo to catch my attention, as I saw this 6’10 forward just seem to outshine Maker on every possession. While Maker just seemed more relaxed with the way he played, Adebayo countered that with this terrific tenacity.
That tenacious nature was evident on both ends of the ball. On the offensive end, Adebayo spent the game as a huge threat to either crash the boards for an offensive rebound or work as a great pick-and-roll partner for Smith.
Adebayo’s work on the offensive glass might be his best skill at the moment, as Adebayo combines a superb 250 frame with just working his ass off through box-outs whenever he’s looking to grab an offensive rebound. Even when he’s not positioned in the paint, Adebayo’s still a threat to crash the offensive glass, as you can see in the clip below. Those kind of putback slams have been a staple of Adebayo’s game, as he’s willing to just attack the rim with ruthless aggression.
When you look away from his tenacity as an offensive rebounder, you see Adebayo as a pretty raw player on the offensive end. Aside from that singular skill, he hasn’t really established an area where he can be relied upon to score consistently. Adebayo’s work inside the low-post is likely his 2nd best trait on the offensive end. Working mainly in the right block, Adebayo showcases pretty solid footwork when he’s locked into a post-up. Combined with that big 250 pound frame, Adebayo shows an ability to just power his way towards the paint to get the easy bucket.
Another area of Adebayo’s offensive game where he’s pretty raw at is as a mid-range shooter. While Adebayo exhibits great fundamentals as he has a pretty quick stroke with a very release point, it seems that Adebayo still doesn’t seem too comfortable with his jumper. Although he has hit his fair share of 18-foot jumpers, Adebayo’s lack of confidence is see how he regularly puts too much power behind his jumper. That’s seen in the play below, as he nearly shoots over the entire rim on the corner jumper.
Transitioning over to the defensive end, Adebayo shined as an athletic 6’10 rim protector that’s effective as a help defender or someone that can stop a front-court player. However, Adebayo really shines as a help defender, as his quick feet and stout athleticism allows him to stop the majority of players that try to cut on him. That work as a help defender is seen in the play below, as Adebayo does a fantastic job of working towards the paint to lay the big block on the cutting guard.
As Bam Adebayo heads to Kentucky to start his freshman season, he’ll stand as arguably the most entertaining player in this year’s freshman class. Whether he’s crashing the offensive glass with tenacity or stopping an incoming guard in his tracks, Adebayo stands as a player to keep your eye on whenever he’s on the court.
But how does that translate to his status as a prospect for the 2017 draft? Well, Adebayo does stand as a one-and-done contender as his work as a rim protector, pick-and-roll cutter should give him looks from teams all over the NBA. Because it’s extremely rare to have a player like Adebayo with an imposing NBA-ready frame (6’10, 250 pounds with a reported 7’6 wingspan) that’s also incredibly athletic.
While those raw skills allow him to be a good one-and-done player, Adebayo could definitely climb up that draft ladder if he improves on one of these two skills: post-up and mid-range shooting. At this point, Adebayo is still raw in either skill, as he hasn’t really shown any consistency. However, if Adebayo does show progression to the point where he can be a consistent pick-and-pop threat or can score on that right block, Adebayo might find himself possibly contending for a top-10 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.