Bam Adebayo is going to need a bigger trophy case once the season finally wraps up.
Just days after he was tabbed voted fifth for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award, the Miami Heat big man came in second for the league’s Most Improved Player award, the league announced on Monday night. Another former Wildcat, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder, finished with the sixth-most voting points. New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram beat out Adebayo by just four first-place votes. Here’s a complete breakdown of the poll.
Bam Adebayo as runner-up to Brandon Ingram for NBA Most Improved Player: pic.twitter.com/mSOwVBV457
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) August 31, 2020
I already went in detail earlier this morning about why I personally chose Ingram over Adebayo for the title of MIP, which you can read here. However, there was a serious case for Adebayo. In my opinion, what killed Adebayo’s chances in the end was that, unlike Ingram, Adebayo never had any doubts about his expectations coming into the year. There was a sense last summer that Adebayo’s time was coming after the Heat traded away Hassan Whiteside. With Ingram, he was traded to New Orleans–in the move that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers–in hopes that he might be able to “resurrect” his career, which he did in impressive fashion.
Even still, Adebayo finishing second for MIP, fifth for DPOY, and earning his first career All-Star invitation in just his third NBA season is widely impressive. Alongside Jimmy Butler, Miami has played the part of a potential NBA Finals contender and Adebayo is a massive reason why. If he can consistently start to knock down 15-foot jumpers… Look out…
Gilgeous-Alexander was never a real threat to win the award–and he falls in a similar category as players such as Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum, young All-Stars who are expected to continue developing at an elite rate–but that doesn’t mean his season should be discounted. He nearly doubled his scoring output from his rookie season to sophomore year and has been a vital piece of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s three-headed backcourt monster (joining Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder) that leads the NBA in clutch-time scoring. SGA’s future is as bright as anyone else.