Atlanta Nabs Solid Two-Way Bench Player In Bazemore
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The Hawks have signed guard Kent Bazemore, formerly of the Lakers and Warriors, to add more depth to their backcourt rotation. Bazemore, traded to the Lakers near the deadline last season, appeared in 23 games for Los Angeles, starting 15, and averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in 28 minutes per game.
Bazemore spent much of his first season-plus with the Warriors, bouncing between the D-League and the NBA franchise, and became a fan favorite for his enthusiasm from the bench. Bazemore brought that same energy to the floor when he got his opportunity with the Lakers, and the Hawks are hoping that he can be a spark for them off the bench behind Kyle Korver at the two guard.
For the Lakers, Bazemore showed off his three-point range, shooting 38.4 percent (34-of-89) from three in his 23 games in Los Angeles. This was a dramatic shift from his numbers in Golden State, where he was a 27 percent (10-37) three-point shooter in limited minutes.
Part of the reason for his improvement was the decline in isolation touches for him and an increase in spot-up opportunities. Bazemore was 16-for-35 (48.5%) on spot-up attempts with the Lakers -- 21.1 percent of his offensive possessions were on spot-ups -- after taking just nine spot-up threes in Golden State, making two. His isolation touches dropped significantly when he went to the Lakers as well, where they accounted for 25.4 percent of his possessions with the Warriors as opposed to just 8.8 percent in Los Angeles.
The Hawks will use Bazemore in a much more similar role to how he was played in Los Angeles, with him operating as a secondary ball-handler rather than a point guard and spending more time as an off-ball player where he will get spot-up looks and cuts to the basket. He proved in his short time with the Lakers that he is more effective and efficient being used in that way.
On defense, Bazemore is extremely lon, putting his 6'11½" inch wingspan to use to disrupt ball-handlers on the perimeter. In Los Angeles, he allowed just 0.63 points per possession against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, good for 16th in the NBA, and forced a turnover on 25.4 percent of the 63 possessions he defended. His length allows him to get in passing lanes as well as pressure opponents dribbling without having to make as much body contact and risking fouls.
Bazemore is still relatively raw and has limited NBA experience, but has shown in his opportunity with the Lakers that he could be a very useful two-way player off the bench. If his three-point shooting can become consistent and reliable and he continues to make strides as a defender, particularly in the team concept, he will be a very solid addition to this Atlanta roster.
Story by Robby Kalland