Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo has joined a long list of great bigs in team history

The Miami Heat have found its next great big

The Miami Heat have always had a tradition of having high-level centers on their roster dating back to their first draft pick in 1988, when they selected Rony Seikaly, 9th overall. In his second season with the Heat, he led them in scoring, averaging 16.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game.

At the end of the season, he was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year. He played six seasons for the Heat, where he was the starting center on two playoff teams. Seikaly was a solid post player with the ability to hit the mid-range shot. He could rebound and was an underrated defender.

Alonzo Mourning, the Heat’s next great center was not underrated on defense. Mourning became the Heat’s anchor on defense when he was traded there in 1995. Pat Riley, who stepped down from his coaching job for the New York Knicks to become the Heat’s head coach and president reconstructed the team around Mourning.

Mourning, who is always talked about as one of the best defensive players of all-time, doesn’t get enough credit for his leadership and scoring. During his first stint with the Heat, Mourning would average 19.7ppg to go along with his defensive numbers, 2.9bpg and 9.6rpg. He won defensive player of the year two years in a row in 1999 and 2000, both years he led the NBA in blocks.

Before the 2000-01 season, Pat Riley and Mourning announced he had a kidney disorder and would not play that season. To everyone s surprise, Mourning came back for the last 13 games and playoffs, but in 2003 Mourning retired from the NBA due to complications from his Kidney Disease. In 2004, after getting a successful kidney transplant, he would return to the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. He would rejoin the Heat in 2005 and help them win a championship in 2006 in a backup role.

Isaac Austin was the backup center for the Heat for almost two years that Alonzo Mourning was there. He came in and proved he could play right away, but in games where Mourning was hurt and Austin got to start, he showed his true value as an NBA player. During the 1996-97 season, he averaged 14.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as a starter in 17 games, helping him to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year award.

In the next season in 25 starts, Austin averaged 17.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Most importantly, the Heat were 30-12 in those games when he started. In midseason of his second year with the Heat, he was traded to the LA Clippers.

In 2004, after being traded to the Heat, all-star center Shaquille O’Neal promised a championship. In 2006, he delivered and the Heat won their first championship. Although he wasn’t the same player he was in Orlando and in L.A., he still averaged 19.5 points, nine rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game, while shooting 60 percent from the floor. With the focus of most of the NBA defenses on Shaq, Dwyane Wade was able to move into superstardom.

During the summer of 2010, the power of the NBA shifted to Miami when the Heat signed free agents LeBron James, Chris Bosh and re-signed superstar guard Dwyane Wade. Bosh had just come off of his best season as a pro for the Toronto Raptors, averaging 24 points, 10.8 rebounds, and one block per game.

He was brought over to Miami to play the power forward position, but he eventually was moved to the center position. Playing in Toronto, Bosh was known as a versatile player that could dominate inside and outside, yet playing with two ball-dominant players who loved to penetrate made him have to adjust his game.

Bosh in Miami would become primarily a stretch five, getting open shots off of Wade and James’ penetration. He often gets forgotten in debates when the greatest duos are brought up referring to LeBron and Wade, ignoring the fact they were a big three with Bosh. Bosh got the most important rebound in Heat history in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

The Spurs looked to close out the Heat and win their 5th championship, but the Heat never quit. With seconds ticking away on the clock LeBron James shot a 3-pointer for the tie that missed. Bosh was able to fight the rebound away from Manu Ginobili and throw it to Ray Allen who backed into the corner and shot a 3-pointer that tied the game.

The game went in overtime and Bosh made another big play when he blocked Danny Green of the Spurs when he attempted to tie the game at the buzzer. The Heat would go on to win their second-straight NBA championship when they closed the Spurs out in Game 7. In his six seasons with the Heat, Bosh averaged a modest 18 points, 7.3 rebounds, and nearly one block per game.

In the post big three era, the Heat found a steal when they signed center Hassan Whiteside. He had been in the league before, briefly playing for the Sacramento Kings from 2010-12. He struggled with consistency and played in the D-League for most of his first stint in the NBA. When he came back to the league in 2014, he made his first impact in a game in January for the Heat when he put up 11 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks in a win over the Nets.

Seven days after that Whiteside had another great game with 23 points, 16 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in a win against the Clippers. On January 25, 2014, in a nationally televised game, Whiteside showed what kind of player he was to the world, with an impressive 14 points, 13 rebounds, and a franchise record, 12 blocks in a win over the Bulls.

“I’m trying to get my NBA 2K rating up.”

Whiteside joked after the game when he was interviewed. Whiteside would spend four more seasons on the Heat, leading the NBA in blocks in the 2015-16 season and leading the league in rebounds in the 2016-17 season.

The big man who has emerged this season for the Heat is Bam Adebayo. Like Mourning and Whiteside before him, he is an underrated scorer. He was averaging 16.2 points per game before the hiatus but is known for his hustle and defense. He’s 8th in rebounds per game, averaging 10.5 and he is 16th in the NBA in blocks per game, averaging 1.3. One of the most impressive things about Adebayo’s game is his passing, where he is averaging 5.1 assists per contest. The Heat at times runs the offense threw him, trusting that he’ll make the right play. This season with his unique skill set Adebayo made his first all-star team.

Next: NBA Restart Recap: What we now know after week 1

It looks like Adebayo will be the Heat’s big men for a while, but after he leaves he won’t be the last one. With a knack of finding great big men, I’m sure the Heat will find another one.