Expect The Unexpected: Coach Pierce Shares Advice With Dewayne Dedmon
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Story by KL Chouinard
ATLANTA -- Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce got an early glimpse of Dewayne Dedmon just a handful of games into Dedmon's NBA career.
Pierce was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers when the team signed Dedmon to a pair of 10-day contracts in January 2014. To that point, Dedmon's NBA career consisted of 6 total minutes in 4 games with the Golden State Warriors.
The 76ers, in the midst of a 19-63 season, gave Dedmon his first real extended minutes and a shot at proving what he could do.
"He was still learning," Pierce said. "He wasn't the shooter that he is now. He played with good effort, but he was still raw. He was more of a project back then, not so much because he wasn't good, but just no one really knew much about him. But you knew he was an NBA player."
Dedmon averaged 3.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game for the 76ers. More importantly, he upgraded their defense when he took the floor. The Orlando Magic saw the promise in his game and signed him for the remainder of the season. Dewayne Dedmon's NBA career was underway.
Now Pierce's advice to Dedmon is taking on an entirely different form.
"Expect the unexpected."
Pierce isn't talking about basketball. Dewayne and his girlfriend Kayla are expecting their first child in a matter or days. Pierce and his wife Melissa recently had their first child in August.
"He's lucky that he has got a coach who just had a baby, because I understand and I know the timeline," Pierce quipped.
Dedmon is understandably excited as he counts down the days.
"We've got 13 days left man, so we'll see," Dedmon said on Nov. 3. "You know what I'm saying? I haven't seen him yet, but I can't wait. I'm looking forward to it."
Pierce said that he will be careful to be sure that Dedmon is present for the birth of his first child as the Hawks embark on a West Coast trip Sunday, even if such obstetric timelines are unpredictable.
"The one thing I know is that you're going to have your own experience. From August 1st to August 11th, we had a date night every night and we had a workout. It was the most fun, but also the most boring – I was afraid to go to the grocery store. Just expect the unexpected is the bottom line. Who knows? And that's why we're going to be mindful about going out West. You don't know when it's going to happen and how it's going to happen, and how much time in between, so we've got to come up with a plan that is best for Dewayne and his family."
On the court, Dedmon has made a strong return from an ankle fracture that sidelined him for the preseason and the first few games of the regular season. He has averaged 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds as the first center off the bench. And despite playing just 18.8 minutes per game, Dedmon currently ranks 9th in the NBA in blocks per game (1.8).
"I'm feeling good," Dedmon said. "I'm just trying to catch my rhythm again. Once I get my rhythm, all the pieces of the puzzle will be back together. It's a process. I haven't played in two months. I'm just trying to get back in the flow of things and get chemistry with the young guys and new players that we have."
One player with whom Dedmon has seemingly generated instant chemistry is Jeremy Lin. The two shared no court time in the buildup to the season; Dedmon hurt his ankle before Lin resumed practices following his rehabilitation from a knee injury. Despite the relative newness, Lin and Dedmon have thrived together. Some of the Hawks' best offensive units have been centered around the pick-and-roll duo.
Lin said he and Dedmon both aspire to be players who are easy for other teammates to play with.
"Any time I get paired with a really, really intelligent big man, it makes my life so much easier," Lin said. "I give him a lot of credit for setting screens, angles on screens, getting below the defense, rolling to the right place, keeping his hands ready, shooting floaters, finishing at the rim, shooting threes and making plays."
After realizing the length of that list, Lin laughed.
"Really, he's just making me look really good, man."
Pierce said that Dedmon has a propensity toward volume, and he's using it constructively.
"He's the loudest guy in the locker room – good and bad," Pierce said smiling. "He's just always talking, but he brings that to the court as well. His real contribution is on the defensive end: his energy and his communication. He's always in the right spot."
Baby Dedmon will be joining a household that already includes two dogs, Bella, a Great Dane, and Blue, a rottweiler.
"I think they kind of sense it, but once the baby actually comes, then they'll really have to get acclimated to it," Dewayne said.
Dewayne also said that he and Kayla had no tolerance for a gender reveal event.
"Oh no," he said. "We knew as soon as we could find out. We knew it was a boy. We've got a 2.0 on the way."