Heat’s Bam Adebayo named East All-Star reserve. But Jimmy Butler not selected

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo made it clear that he believes he should be selected as an NBA All-Star this season. Coaches agreed.

Adebayo will represent the Heat as an All-Star reserve in the Feb. 19 showcase game, which will take place at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. It marks the second time Adebayo has been named an All-Star in his six NBA seasons, with his first All-Star selection coming in the 2019-20 season.

The seven All-Star reserves from each conference, which were voted on by head coaches, were revealed Thursday night on TNT.

Adebayo, 25, joins Alonzo Mourning, Jimmy Butler, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh as players who have been voted into the All-Star Game multiple times as members of the Heat.

The Heat’s other All-Star candidates this season — Butler and Tyler Herro — did not make the cut. At this point, the only way Miami could have a second player in the All-Star Game is as an injury replacement.

The seven All-Star reserve spots usually include three frontcourt players, two guards and two additional players regardless of position.

Along with Adebayo, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, Boston’s Jaylen Brown, Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday, New York’s Julius Randle and Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton were named as Eastern Conference All-Star reserves.

The seven All-Star reserves from the Western Conference are Memphis’ Ja Morant, Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Los Angeles’ Paul George, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Utah’s Lauri Markkanen and Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr.

Adebayo and Butler were both considered frontcourt players and Herro was considered a guard on the All-Star ballot.

While Herro was a long shot to make the All-Star Game, Butler had a strong All-Star case but the coaches ultimately did not vote him in.

Butler, 33, has been excellent this season, entering Thursday night’s matchup against the New York Knicks averaging 22 points, six rebounds, 4.9 assists and a league-leading 2.1 steals per game. He’s also shooting a career-best 52.1 percent from the field.

The advanced metrics love Butler, who holds the NBA’s 10th-best estimated plus-minus and eighth-best player efficiency rating (PER) while also being ranked second in win shares per 48 minutes behind only Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic this season.

Those are All-Star level numbers for Butler, but there were a few factors working against his All-Star case.

Butler, who has been voted into the All-Star Game in two of his four seasons with the Heat, has missed 15 of the Heat’s first 53 games this season because of various injuries. Coaches may also have been hesitant to vote for two Heat players as All-Star reserves because Miami hasn’t been one of the NBA’s best teams this season, with the Heat currently in sixth place in the East.

In the end, Adebayo is the one who was selected by the coaches as the Heat’s All-Star.

Adebayo entered Thursday averaging a career-high 21.4 points on 53.9 percent shooting from the field to go with 10 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game while providing his trademark high-level defense in his sixth NBA season. He has reached the 30-point mark in 17 games during his NBA career, and eight of those games have come this season.

Adebayo is one of only five players in the league averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent or better from the field this season along with Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks, Anthony Davis from the Los Angeles Lakers, Embiid and Jokic. Adebayo entered Thursday tied with Antetokounmpo as the league leaders in total paint points for the season.

Adebayo also ranks second in the NBA in defensive win shares behind only Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley.

The Heat has simply been a better team with Adebayo on the court, outscoring opponents by 3.4 points per 100 possessions in his minutes this season. Meanwhile, opponents have outscored the Heat by 5.2 points per 100 possessions when Adebayo has not been on the court.

Along with that productivity, Adebayo has been available for nearly every game this season. He has played in 48 of the Heat’s first 53 games.

The All-Star Game starters — voted on by fans, current NBA players and a media panel — were announced last week.

Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving and Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell are the two East guards voted in as starters, with Antetokounmpo, Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and Boston’s Jayson Tatum as the three East frontcourt players who made the cut.

The West All-Star starters are James, Jokic and Zion Williamson from the New Orleans Pelicans in the frontcourt, and Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors and Luka Doncic from the Dallas Mavericks in the backcourt.

The two rosters for the All-Star Game will be drafted by Antetokounmpo and James as the All-Star starter from each conference who received the most fan votes in his respective conference. They will choose from the pool of players voted in as starters and reserves regardless of conference affiliation.

For the first time, the All-Star draft will take place right before the All-Star Game just about 30 minutes before tipoff.

Adebayo could be the only Heat representative at All-Star Weekend this year. As of Thursday night, the Heat did not have a confirmed participant in any of the Feb. 18 All-Star Saturday Night events like the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest.

The Heat also did not have a player selected for the Feb. 17 Rising Stars game, as the rosters of first and second-year NBA players and G League players were announced earlier this week.