DeAndre' Bembry beams while thinking back to when he first heard the Hawks would play an offensive style that seems to fit him perfectly.
“Shoot, me and Malcolm (Delaney) heard that and we were like, ‘Yeah!’” Bembry said. “That’s exactly what we wanted coming into the second season for us. When your coach wants you to be aggressive, that gives you a motive. That gives you a clear mind. 'Your coach wants you to do this, so why not go out there and be aggressive?' It was a big smile for sure when we heard.”
With big men Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap departed, the Hawks plan to use more perimeter-oriented approach. The idea is that with the bigs on the perimeter, and with quick ball movement and cuts, there will be more space for drivers. As Dennis Schroder put it : “The lane is wide open.”
Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince and especially Schroder should benefit from the new approach. Bembry probably is the second-unit player best suited to take advantage. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-6 wing with good handles and passing ability and he finishes strong at the rim.
Bembry is at his best driving to the basket and now he should get more chances to do so.
“It opens up a lot of opportunities for myself, Taurean, Baze for us to start getting more downhill and attacking the bigs and attacking whoever is guarding us,” Bembry said. “That’s going to open up more shots not even just for ourselves but for our teammates, our bigs and our shooters on the wing. That’s right up my alley. That’s how I play. Use the speed, use my athleticism and make the right play.”
Bembry also has the potential to a be a very good wing defender. The Hawks plan to play an aggressive, “scrappy” style of defense that also suits him.
“I got in there every once in a while last year and I was guarding LeBron James, James Harden end of the game and holding my own,” he said. “So just off of that, after last year, I am pretty confident. Coming into this year, I would say I’m probably the best defensive wing player, if not the best defender on the team. I just take the pride on the defensive and believe I can guard anybody.
Bembry played just 371 minutes as a rookie under coach Mike Budenholzer. His playing time was erratic save for a February stretch when Thabo Seflolosha was out. Now Bembry figures to be a regular part of the wing rotation along with Bazemore, Prince and Marco Belinelli.
Bembry recovered quickly from a preseason triceps injury. In just his second game back, against the Grizzlies on Monday, Bembry showed how he can spark the Hawks as a play-maker, shot creator and defensive nuisance.
“DeAndre can impact the game with individual defense, keeping guys in front of him and making it tough to shoot and finish over him,” Budenholzer said afterward. “I thought on the other end -- he drives and kicks it to Ersan (Ilyasova) for a 3 -- he gets in the paint and finds other guys. He gets to the free-throw line. When you are getting stops on one end, it’s creating running opportunities and hopefully playing against a defense that’s not set and makes it a lot easier to run the offense.
“I think his defense leads to us play well on both ends. To see him out there moving and attacking and playing, he’s just got a natural feel for the game.”
- Hawks practice report: Belinelli 'for sure' he'll be ready for season opener
- Hawks say 'scrappy' style gives them chance to exceed expectations
- WATCH: Hawks rookie John Collins on his NBA development
- Five observations from Hawks victory over Grizzlies (exhibition)
- Dewayne Dedmon (!) to shoot 3s as Hawks seek floor spacing
- Hawks waive John Jenkins, Jordan Matthews
- Can Hawks be fun to watch even if they don't win many games?
- Five observations from Hawks victory at Cavs (exhibition)
- NBA GMs: Collins is draft 'steal,' Budenholzer among best game coaches
- The best Hawks lineup, for now and the future
- Dewayne Dedmon immediately shows he can help the Hawks
- Five observations from Hawks loss at Heat (exhibition)
- Dennis Schroder is arrested, and I wonder if he's ready to lead Hawks
- Is Mike Budenholzer on board with Hawks rebuild?
- Will NBA draft lottery changes hurt Hawks?
- VIDEO: Hawks guard Belinelli says he's fitting in fast with new team
- Now healthy, Hawks Bazemore 'in love with the grind again'
- VIDEO: Hawks guard Schroder on leadership, featured role in offense
- VIDEO: Hawks coach Budenholzer on offensive tweaks
- Malcolm Delaney: 'People didn't understand everything I had to go through'
- Here are the details on Hawks contracts
- Hawks to 'practice harder' so they can play faster
- Hawks now are Schroder's show
- 'Greater pace, greater space' for Hawks? Sounds good
- Hawks GM Travis Schlenk Q-and-A Part 2: 'Excited' about 2018 draft class
- Hawks GM Travis Schlenk Q-and-A: 'We are going to be competitive'
- Five things to watch at Hawks training camp
- Hawks player preview: Dennis Schroder
- Hawks player preview: Taurean Prince
- Hawks player preview: Miles Plumlee
- Hawks player preview: Mike Muscala
- Hawks player preview: Ersan Ilyasova
- Hawks player preview: Tyler Dorsey
- Hawks player preview: Malcolm Delaney
- Hawks player preview: Dewayne Dedmon
- Hawks player preview: Quinn Cook
- Hawks player preview: John Collins
- Hawks player preview: Nicolas Brussino
- Hawks player preview: DeAndre' Bembry
- Hawks player preview: Marco Belinelli
- Hawks player preview: Kent Bazemore
- Hawks player preview: Luke Babbitt