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Norris Cole Thinks Bam Adebayo Is The Best Two-Way Player in the League and Better Than Anthony Davis on Defense

Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo. Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Bam Adebayo made the All-Star team for the third time this year, and deservedly so. The Miami Heat big man hangs his hat on defense while doing so much on offense as well. Is it possible that he’s the best two-way player in the league? Well, Norris Cole thinks so.

In a featured appearance on Gil’s Arena, the former Heat guard says Adebayo is better than Anthony Davis on defense and is the best two-way player right now.

Norris Cole: He’s between 20 to 24, because he’s the best two-way player in the league. As far as offense and defense, all around. 

Kenyon Martin: Is he better than Anthony Davis?

Norris Cole: No, not offensively. Defensively, I believe he is. And he assists better, playmake better. He just don’t score better than Anthony Davis. He shot blocks just as good if not better, he switches and plays man-to-man defense better.

Norris Cole and Kenyon Martin discussing Bam Adebayo and Anthony Davis

For a little context, the crew talked about the top 24 players in the NBA who made the All-Star teams. Cole thought Adebayo was better than Karl-Anthony Towns and Domantas Sabonis (who didn’t make the team). Even though the former NBA champion placed Davis in the top 15 already, he still thinks he’s not better than Adebayo on defense.

What The Numbers Say

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 3: Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against defender Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game on January 3, 2024 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Interestingly, the stats don’t tell the whole story here. Davis actually blocks more shots (2.5 to 1.0), grabs more rebounds (12.2 to 10.6), and has a slightly better defensive rating (109.9 to 109.7). On the other hand, Adebayo has a way better defensive FG% (43.9%) than Davis (47.8%). However, Davis is a +31 overall while Adebayo is a -3.

Nevertheless, there is a way for the debate to be settled. The 30-year-old is a better big-man defender, while Adebayo is the more versatile one. There is probably nobody better right now than the Heat center in switching against quick guards and shutting them down. That said, Davis is a dyed-in-the-wool defense-first guy even during his Kentucky days.

Like Cole, would you give Adebayo the nod as a defender over Davis?