It is clear that with Dwight Howard’s declining play, he is not the long-term option at center for the Hawks. Edrice, better known as “Bam” Adebayo, was the nation’s 8th ranked player coming out of high school and of course chose to play at the University of Kentucky. He helped lead the Wildcats to the Elite 8 as the starting center for the team. He may not have the skilled offensive game that many of the top players in the draft have, but Adebayo has an NBA-ready body that could dominate the league in the future.
Adebayo may be a little short for a center at 6’10”, but he makes up for it with his 7’3″ wingspan and 250-pound body at the tender age of 19. It also helps that he possesses jump out of the gym athleticism. These attributes made Adebayo one of the best rebounding and defensive centers in the NCAA. He averaged 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 30 minutes per game as a freshman. For a player projected to go in the late-first, early-second round, Adebayo has an unusually high floor. At the very least, he should be able to translate into an active rebounder and a feared shot blocker at the NBA level.
The weaknesses in Adebayo’s game lie on the offensive side. He may never develop into an offensive threat. He attempted no three-pointers at Kentucky and does not have the jump-shot many teams today like to see in their big men. He is raw skillfully with a developing mid-range game. His rim-running is a plus. Adebayo will always be active in transition and has the ability to finish with authority. However, there is a great possibility that might be all he can give a team offensively at this level.
There are a lot of similarities between a player like Tristan Thompson and Adebayo. Both are a little short for the center position, but have the size and athleticism to make up for it. At 19 however, Adebayo still has plenty of time to develop on the offensive end. His free-throw percentage of 65% shows he should be able to develop an effective mid-range game to keep opponents honest. If not, the Hawks could still use his rebounding and shot-blocking abilities in the future, as Howard’s career in Atlanta comes to an end.