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Edrice “Bam” Adebayo — 6’10” Center, Kentucky, 19 Years Old
Edrice Adebayo, nicknamed “Bam”, is a 6’10” center from Newark, NJ who has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft without an agent after his freshman season at the University of Kentucky. Like many Kentucky one-and-dones, Adebayo is still quite raw, but has more than enough talent and athletic ability to become an impact player at the NBA level. After averaging 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 30.1 minutes per game with the Wildcats last season, Adebayo is projected to go late in the first round of this June’s Draft.
Adebayo’s biggest strength is his pure athleticism, which allows him to play much bigger than he is. Namely, his 7′ 3″ wingspan and 38.5 inch vertical — as measured at the NBA Draft Combine this past week in Chicago — permits him to contest shots with ease and wreak havoc on the offensive glass. Equally as impressive, Adebayo’s sound footwork, agility and lateral quickness give him the ability to guard multiple forward positions and switch out onto smaller guards if necessary. Beyond his physical attributes, Adebayo also has strong instincts around the basket and plays with a high level of contagious energy at both ends of the floor. The fundamental aspects of his game have come a long way working with John Calipari over the course of his freshman season at Kentucky, and although some felt Adebayo would have been better served by another year of development with Big Blue Nation, NBA coaching will greatly benefit him in that department moving forward.
Although Adebayo’s raw athletic ability was more than enough to compensate for his 6’10” frame in college, he is still considered undersized for the center position. This will become more of an issue in the NBA, where opposing centers are bigger and more physical than his SEC counterparts. That means that he will need to take his motor up a notch in order to find success in an energy role at the pro level. In addition, Adebayo’s low post game could use some more polish, and he also has room to develop his mid-range jump shot outside the paint to become a more complete player. Although there are few concerns about whether he is capable of transitioning to the pro game at the defensive end of the floor, offensively is where Adebayo has much more work to do.
If Adebayo can make improvements to his array of moves in the low post and perhaps even develop a mid range element to his game, there is no telling how high his ceiling could be. At a minimum, however, he projects as an energy rebounder and shot-blocker off the bench. Still, those types of players can impact the game in a number of different ways, whether that means sending back shots and finishing put-backs to ignite the crowd, or simply chasing down offensive boards to give his team’s go-to scorers an opportunity for second chance points. In today’s NBA, big men are asked to do much more than simply pound the ball down low, making players of Adebayo’s nature highly coveted by Front Offices across the league.
Two pro comparisons for Adebayo are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson and Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried. Now, neither Thompson nor Faried are key offensive contributors for their clubs, but the role they play still has immense value. For example, Thompson in particular has had a monumental impact on the NBA Champion Cavaliers in recent seasons, and especially so during their playoff runs where he caused all sorts of problems on the glass for the smaller Golden State Warriors. Moreover, Thompson and Faried are both considered undersized by NBA standards, but have found ways to overcome that limitation with one very simple recipe: they are two of the hardest-working bigs in the NBA and allow no one to match their level of intensity. If his game can continue to grow and mature once he makes the leap up to the NBA, the 19-year-old Adebayo has the potential to make much the same impact.