Bembry: "I'm Definitely Working On My Shooting" This Summer
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Story by KL Chouinard
When DeAndre' Bembry spoke at his exit interview at the the conclusion of the Hawks' 2016-17 season, the first phrase he brought up was "ups and downs". Bembry had to learn to deal with the emotional highs and lows of becoming a professional basketball player; of dealing with being out of the rotation despite playing well in spot duty. He also went through the literal ups and downs of the designated assignments to the NBA's Developmental League and the subsequent recalls back to the Hawks.
Most NBA rookies have a handful games during the season when they play well; Bembry is no different in that regard. But perhaps it's worth a moment to consider Bembry's two best games of the season: in road games at Houston and Cleveland.
- Feb. 2 at HOU: 10 points (5/6 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, guarded James Harden when he was on the court, finished with a plus-minus rating of plus-16
- April 7 at CLE: 8 points (4/5 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, guarded LeBron James when he was on the court, finished with a plus-minus rating of plus-29
(At this point, you may look up LeBron's numbers and see that he finished with 27 points on 12-for-15 shooting. It's true. But he did the majority of that damage when Bembry was off the court, and when Bembry did guard LeBron, the Hawks used a scheme that sent little help Bembry's way. Instead, they put him on an island and figuratively said, "Do what you can do stop him." And the Hawks won doing it.)
Bembry is tantalizingly close to being an impactful NBA player. He can certainly defend. He moves his feet exceptionally well in order to stay in front of the player that he is guarding, and he fights over screens like a savvy vet. He demonstrated that he can move well without the ball, curling crisply around screens and cutting hard to the rim whenever his defender turns his head. He showed that he can handle the ball and make accurate passes. He also flashed the athleticism needed to finish at the rim in the world's tallest and most skilled basketball league.
At his exit interview, Bembry listed his summer goals and highlighted the one thing he needs to work on most.
"I made one three this season," he said. "For sure, I need to get better at that. I feel like that’s the biggest improvement I need. Other than that, I feel like I’m a pretty decent player, but I'm definitely working on my shooting for the summer."
Bembry said that he expects to play in Summer League this July and that he will spend most of his remaining time in Atlanta. In fact, he has already started his workouts.
"I’m going to be here with Ben," he said, referring to Hawks assistant coach Ben Sullivan. "I have nothing to wait for. I’m going to take vacations here and there, but I’m going to be here most of the summer."
While Bembry hasn't perfected his jump shot yet, he has made a lot of progress. Good evidence of that fact lies in his D-League stats. In six games with the Salt Lake City Stars, Bembry averaged 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He also made 37.5 percent of his threes.
"A lot of good things happened from playing in the D-League and not playing with the team and then coming back and playing with the team and getting some burn," Bembry said. "I felt like it was a good start for me."