All-Stars will wait for Heat’s Adebayo game, but qualifications are obvious

MIAMI — This moment won’t come Thursday. In a popularity race, Bam Adebayo has to match Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid (Joel Embiid) and Jayson Tatum’s level, there is still a way to go.

But if it doesn’t come within the week starting Thursday, that’s when Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said there will be explanations to be had.

Typically, the Heat downplay All-Star voting and All-Star appearances. In those years of coach disputes, Spoelstra almost turned the standings upside down, preferring to miss the game and give him a weekend vacation.

But when you’re asking a player to do everything on both ends of the floor, and he’s doing everything on both ends of the floor, that’s where the switch comes in.

After Adebayo’s 30 points and 15 rebounds, including the game-winning shot, Spoelstra said of Tuesday night’s win over the Boston Celtics at the Miami-Dade Arena: It’s not in my nature to go out and campaign.” “I just think he’s an All-Star.”

With fan, media and player voting completed, the All-Star starters for the Feb. 19 game in Utah will be announced Thursday. With fan voting accounting for 50 percent of the process, the popularity contest has worked against Adebayo, who is generally soft-spoken and has limited endorsements.

But with the East’s three frontcourt starters identified in the upcoming voting results, league coaches must select three more frontcourt players to serve as backups, while also adding two All-Stars at any position.

Although Julius Randle, Jarrett Allen, Pascal Siakam, Myles Turner, Brook Lopez, Paul Banchero, and Kyle Kuzma have all had their own players in the Eastern Conference this season. Great moments of their own, but those players are not enough to crowd out Adebayo. Even against teammate Jimmy Butler, Adebayo provided a stronger playing resume, 44 to 34.

Beyond that, with his two-way offense, Adebayo embodies in many ways what the coaches want from their players as they vote for an All-Star bench.

Since being selected by Kentucky with the 14th overall pick in 2017, Adebayo has only made the All-Star Game in 2020, when both he and Butler were selected as backups. Butler was the only All-Star for the Heat last year.

“Of course, I’m rooting for it,” said Spoelstra of Adebayo, who is averaging a team-high 21.6 points and 10.2 rebounds this season. “I think he should have been an All-Star last year. There’s really no reason he shouldn’t have been an All-Star last year. He missed five weeks. So what? He’s playing at an All-Star level. months to five weeks, but was still admitted.

“It’s well deserved. It’s really not in my nature to go out and campaign.”

With the Heat just coming off an uneven start with a season-best five games scored over . good argument.

“Thankfully, it was a big win,” he said of the win in Butler’s absence. “It’s on TV. I want people to notice. But he really impacted the win, especially in the clutch. Not just scoring.”

Adebayo said the effort goes beyond the upcoming All-Star announcement.

“It’s competition,” he said. “They beat us in the Eastern Conference finals last year. I think a lot of guys on our team felt that way.”

But if he doesn’t run, teammates will.

“He’s been a killer for us all season, how far he’s taken us, and he’s one of the best centers in the NBA,” forward Heywood Highsmith said. “He’s definitely an All-Star this year. So when I’m on the court with him, I definitely just see his will and his strength, just to make us win. Not only on the offensive end, but also on the defensive end. He It’s a two-way street.”

A criticism of Adebayo is a lack of offensive skill. This season, that’s less of a talking point, as the Celtics could attest, as his feathered 13-foot jumper with 20.4 seconds left sealed Tuesday’s win.

“Coach did a great job of emphasizing getting me the ball,” he said, “and I was just taking advantage of my opportunities.”