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Pat Riley, Miami Heat waiting for Bam Adebayo to reach a new level

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo is no longer considered a young player.

He turns 27 next month. He is entering his eighth NBA season. He's not a kid anymore, so the Heat expect even more this season.

“Bam needs to watch his game and sit with the coach, [and] How he can get better and expand his game,” Heat team president Pat Riley said. “He's just gotten to the point where he's an All-NBA player. “We're lucky to have him.”

But …

They want to see a new and improved Adebayo. Last year he was named an All-Star for the third time. His scoring dipped slightly (19.3 ppg), but he averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds. He also played 71 games, helping the Heat make up for the extended absences of Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler.

“He was exceptional in his growth spurt from being a rookie to who he is now,” Riley said. “Everyone in the league knows what their game is. You all know what he does for us, how important he is to us in many areas.”

It's common for superstars to develop later in their careers. Riley pointed to a similar transition with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for Los Angeles. After losing to the Houston Rockets in the 1986 conference finals, Johnson returned with a new career average of 23.9 points and led them to another championship.

“He needs to expand his game,” Riley said. “I remember in 1986, after we got beaten by Houston, the Magic came to me and said, 'We need to change some things. I have to change myself. I need to start shooting threes.'”

Shandel Richardson is the editor of Inside The Heat. He can be reached at shandelrich@gmail.com

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