You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Now healthy, Bazemore making good on contract


Kent Bazemore sensed the frustration of his teammates.

The Hawks wing had struggled so much early in the season that he was turning down open shots for fear of missing. He took a moment and had an epiphany.

“I was like, if I’m going to fail, it’s going to be an aggressive fail,” Bazemore said Friday morning before the Hawks played the Kings.

Bazemore said the moment came in Jan. 13 against the Celtics. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, including two 3-pointers. In the past 15 games, Bazemore averaged 14.1 points and shot .479 from the field and .424 from 3-point range. This is more like what the Hawks envisioned when they signed him to a four-year, $70 million contract this summer to return to Atlanta.

In the 15 games, Bazemore has scored in double figures 11 times. He reached double figures only 16 times in his previous 36 games since the start of the season.

Bazemore said the biggest factor in his recent success is simply his health. He said he was slowed much of the year by a sore right knee. He missed two games in December with the ailment and came off the bench for the next three games before returning to the starting lineup.

“That was a huge part of everything I was going through — the frustrations, not being able to be who you are,” Bazemore said. “In the present moment not being able to adapt. You are so stubborn mentally, you are going to the game with one mindset and that’s to play the way you play. You can’t do that and it wears on you.

“I had a moment there where I took a step back and said this is what you have, this is what you have to play with. Make the best of it. It worked for me.”

In his first 36 games, Bazemore averaged 9.8 points per game and shot .365 from the field and .295 from 3-point range. There were questions about the contract. Was he deserving? Did the Hawks make a mistake? Bazemore heard them. Maybe, for a few minutes, some of the doubt crept into his own mind.

Bazemore just wanted to get healthy. There was extra rehab and weight-room work to finally get back to feeling normal.

That was followed by a return of confidence.

“I’m just feeling a lot better physically and being aggressive,” Bazemore said. “Now that my body is getting back to me normal self, I’m able to do a little bit more, go a little bit harder and not think about certain parts of my body. It’s all about getting healthy.”

“(My right knee), it’s my jumping knee, my power knee. It was bothering me a little bit, and I was favoring it and scared to do things. I’m over that and getting after it.”

Bazemore said he has been driving to the basket more of late. That has been a product of opponents again having to respect his 3-point shot. Bazemore has gotten inside as defenders rush at him.

The Hawks stuck with Bazemore for his defensive ability. That’s a must in the Hawks’ team system. Play defense first. Bazemore did all that despite his health limitations. The shot and the confidence would eventually return.

Overall, Bazemore is averaging 11.0 points in 51 games with a .401 shooting percentage and a .340 3-point shooting percentage.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he doesn’t see one specific thing that has led to the turnaround. Well, maybe one thing. One important thing.

“I feel like he’s just making shots,” Budenholzer said. “When he’s getting open looks, he is making a higher percentage. That’s what I feel like it has been.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Hawks

New Hawks GM Schlenk already focused on important upcoming decisions
New Hawks GM Schlenk already focused on important upcoming decisions

Travis Schlenk already is on the job. Although the start date for the Hawks’ new general manager and head of basketball operations is not until June 1, Schlenk arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday. A day ahead of the official announcement of his hire, Schlenk had dinner with head coach Mike Budenholzer. The two met again Thursday morning and have...
NBA legend West endorsed Schlenk for Hawks’ GM
NBA legend West endorsed Schlenk for Hawks’ GM

Travis Schlenk has the full endorsement of Jerry West. That goes a long way. The Hawks announced the hire of Schlenk as the franchise’s new general manager Thursday. The 41-year-old Schlenk arrives after spending the past 12 years with the Golden State Warriors, the past five as assistant general manager. Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler spoke...
Hawks announce hire of Schlenk as new GM (updated)
Hawks announce hire of Schlenk as new GM (updated)

Travis Schlenk will get an early start at his new job. On the same day that the Golden State Warriors begin play in the NBA Finals, the organization’s third consecutive trip to the championship series, Schlenk will take over the Hawks. The Hawks announced the hire of Schlenk as the team’s new general manager and head of basketball operations...
Job 1 for the Hawks and Schlenk: Look to a time beyond LeBron
Job 1 for the Hawks and Schlenk: Look to a time beyond LeBron

The Hawks are set to hire Travis Schlenk, once on Ron Jirsa’s staff at Georgia and lately the assistant general manager with Golden State, as GM. This would mean Schlenk is moving from the NBA West, which the Warriors have ruled for three seasons, to the East. If you’re a GM based in the NBA East, here are your starting points: 1. LeBron...
Hawks close to hiring executive with UGA ties as GM
Hawks close to hiring executive with UGA ties as GM

The Atlanta Hawks are on the verge of hiring Travis Schlenk for their vacant general manager position, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed. Schlenk currently is the assistant general manager of the Golden State Warriors. The 41-year-old Schlenk has spent the past 12 seasons with the Warriors, including the past five as the assistant to general...
More Stories