Anthony Davis matched up against one of the game's best centers in Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets during the Western Conference finals, and he expects a similar challenge when he and the Los Angeles Lakers face rising Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo.
"Bam's a great player. ... He reminds us a lot like Jokic ... he handles the ball a lot. He pushes on the (fast) break for them," Davis told reporters Tuesday. "He makes great passes. He can score. He's like their energy guy as well."
Miami dealt starting center Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers during the offseason, paving the way for Adebayo's breakthrough 2019-20 campaign.
The 23-year-old big man averaged 15.9 points, 10.2 boards, 5.1 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 2019-20, earning his first All-Star selection and finishing a close second in the NBA's Most Improved Player voting behind the New Orleans Pelicans' Brandon Ingram.
Adebayo's abilities to grab and go in transition, set solid screens, and create for his teammates have made him a versatile offensive weapon. He posted a 23.7 assist percentage during the regular season, ranking in the 99th percentile among NBA big men, according to Cleaning The Glass.
Davis is looking forward to the challenge his fellow Kentucky alumnus will present and knows their matchup is an exciting one.
"He's developed so much since coming out of college and even last year, he was able to do so much for that team," Davis said. "That team leans on him a lot. I think it was Game 4 where he took that pressure and took the blame for not playing well, and the team ended up losing. (He) came out in Game 5 and almost had a triple-double.
"For a guy to be in his second year, he wants that pressure, wants the big-time moments, wants to make the big-time plays for his team, it's going to be a fun matchup."