Bam Adebayo had a strong case to be in the running for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year away this season, but the Miami Heat star was not even a finalist. He was not pleased about that.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Phoenix Suns guard Mikal Bridges and Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart were the finalists for Defensive Player of the Year. Smart was announced as the winner on Monday night. Adebayo was asked earlier in the day about not being a finalist, and he did not take the high road. He said he feels not playing in as many nationally televised games worked against him.
“Disrespectful, honestly,” Adebayo said, via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “I feel like I can do anything that two out of the three can do besides the fact that I can’t teach height. But they all three play on TV more than me, so I would expect that. They get more TV games and they get more exposure. People like to talk about them more. Nobody wants to talk about us. So it’s whatever at that point.”
Adebayo received 13 first-place votes among the 100 media members who voted. One of the main arguments against voting for him was that Adebayo played in just 56 games due to a thumb injury. Though, third-place finisher Gobert played in 66 games.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he was “stunned” to learn that Adebayo was not a finalist. Miami allowed 104.9 points per 100 possessions when Adebayo was on the floor this season. That defensive efficiency would have ranked first in the NBA if the Heat maintained it when Adebayo was on the bench.
You can understand why Adebayo feels slighted. The best-case scenario for the Heat would be him using the snub as motivation during the playoffs.