Riley praises Adebayo: 'He is the real deal'
Oscar Baldizon / National Basketball Association / Getty

Pat Riley, who's served as the Miami Heat's president since 1995 and has nurtured some of the game's top talent during his long career, envisions an incredibly promising future ahead for Bam Adebayo, his team's budding star.

"He's the Zo (Alonzo Mourning). He's the UD (Udonis Haslem). He's the Dwyane (Wade). They were standard-bearers. Bam is that person. He is the real deal," Riley said of the 22-year-old to ESPN's Zach Lowe.

Adebayo's numbers have skyrocketed across the board during his third season. The two-way hybrid big man will play in his first All-Star Game this weekend after averaging career bests in points (15.8), rebounds (10.4), assists (4.9), blocks (1.2), and steals (1.2) in 54 games thus far. His playmaking is particularly noteworthy, as Adebayo trails only Denver's Nikola Jokic in assists per game among centers.

Further, his defensive impact has been instrumental during Miami's resurgence. The Kentucky product ranks seventh league-wide in defensive win shares (3.0), fourth in defensive box plus-minus (4.0), and ninth in VORP (3.3), according to Basketball-Reference.

After missing out on the playoffs in 2018-19, the Heat are currently just four victories away from matching their 39 wins last season, with 28 contests still remaining on the club's schedule.

Riley praises Adebayo: 'He is the real deal'
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