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Q: Ira, you have pointed out that Bam Adebayo’s five-year extension kicks in next season. His decision to play in the Olympics will keep him from the Heat’s offseason development program. After his poor playoff performance against the Bucks, he, himself, acknowledged the need to use the offseason to improve. He doesn’t have a perimeter game and he couldn’t shoot open mid-range shots against the Bucks in that first round of the playoffs. The Heat were expected to help him work on his perimeter game and other areas in the offseason. Did this really come down to my country needs me and representing my country is so much more important than improving my game to better the Heat? How much time can he devote now to truly improving his game given the timing of the Olympics and the start of next season ? — Michael, North Miami Beach.
A: As many in this situation have said, the experience of a month working with the best and being coached by the best can be a career-altering experience. In a good way. If nothing else, the time with the Olympic team assures that Bam Adebayo will be on the court this summer. And, yes, representing one’s country can be profoundly meaningful. The constant with shooting is that it is something that can be done individually, so there should still be ample opportunity in that regard. And Bam arguably could do a lot worse than taking tips from Kevin Love on shooting, rebounding and playing as a floor-spacing big man.
Q: Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala could use the extra time with the Nigerian national team to work on their game. Hopefully they do it. — Keanii.
A: This was in response to Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala being added to the Nigerian national team’s player pool in advance of the Olympics. And, as with Bam Adebayo with USA Basketball, it’s never a bad thing to experience a different style of coaching and a different type of playing style, to help diversify one’s game.
Q: I’m a bit perplexed at this supposed interest the Heat has in Kyle Lowry. Both Lowry and Goran Dragic are 35 years old. Lowry makes twice as much as Goran, yet Lowry’s stats for this past season are only marginally better than Dragic, whose stats were on par with his career while Lowry’s 2020-21 numbers were quite a bit less. Now, Lowry is one of my favorite players, but I don’t think he would be much, if any, improvement for the Heat. Instead, I think the Heat must improve on rebounding and Erik Spoelstra needs to retool his offense to include two bigs, with Bam Adebayo at power forward and drop his position-less idea. I think dropping the fascination with Lowry and moving Adebayo to power forward will unlock his true ability. In my humble opinion, the Heat need three things: add a big, retool the offense and find a youngish scorer. — Roland, Borrego Springs, Calif.
A: But part of carrying a max-level player on your roster is keeping that max-level player content. And Jimmy Butler is a big fan of Kyle Lowry. So, there’s that. As for Bam Adebayo playing alongside a true big man, the problem is we haven’t seen it often enough to know if it truly would work. While I appreciate that this past season was all about maximizing playoff position amid the uncertainly of the pandemic, it would have been more comforting to see some Bam & Big to get a sense if that is the most prudent way to move forward. Can Bam thrive alongside a true center? The reality is that at this point, we have no idea.