By now it’s obvious that Dewayne Dedmon is a legitimate NBA center. He established himself as a rotation player at Orlando and San Antonio, but given a bigger role with the Hawks, he’s shown that he can be more than that.
Dedmon’s signing last summer gave the Hawks a respectable veteran big man for their transition to rebuilding. It provided Dedmon the chance to show he’s more than just a backup big and possibly cash in as a free agent this summer.
Demon has held up his end, and the Hawks probably have gotten even more than what they expected.
“I think it’s going pretty well,” Dedmon said. “I don’t have a problem with what’s been happening. I’m enjoying it. Enjoying the process, having fun and playing basketball with my guys.”
Dedmon has hit the trifecta of dramatically increasing his offensive usage and production while also maintaining his high efficiency. He’s added a jump shot to go with his strong pick-and-roll game. Dedmon’s rim protection has been somewhat disappointing based on his track record, but the Hawks have been a better defensive team with him on the floor.
Dewayne Dedmon (ranking among players with at least 500 minutes played)
PER=Player Efficiency Rating; WS=Win shares;BPM=Box Plus Minus
Dedmon missed 19 games with a leg injury. In four games played since his return, Dedmon has been the same productive and efficient player he was over the first 20 games.
“Ton of energy,” Hawks guard Kent Bazemore said. “Very underrated scorer, defender. Runs the floor with the best of them and really a threat on the rim in transition. He does a lot for us. He gets us guards a lot of corner 3's from his activity up and down the floor. He’s blocking shots. He plays big back there in pick-and-rolls. It’s good to have him. I love playing with him.”
I’d argue that Dedmon would be the most attractive trade piece for the Hawks if not for the injury and his $6.3 million contract option for next season. Those circumstances probably make Ersan Ilyasova the more valuable trade target, but certainly teams will be interested in Dedmon as a free agent if he finishes the season with the Hawks and opts out of his player option.
Dedmon has played well for the Hawks. But it’s notable that when coach Mike Budenholzer is asked about Dedmon’s performance, he often segues to Dedmon’s impact on the team’s culture.
“It’s been great to have Dewayne,” Budenholzer said. “His play — you guys all see it. It is fairly obvious to everyone that watches the game. But I think the thing is his energy, his voice, his leadership. He brings something to the huddle, he brings something to the locker room that I think we all appreciate. He’s in people’s ear, he’s in people’s face saying the right thing. Love the play but love the voice. I love the leadership.”
Budenholzer and his teammates have scoffed at questions from media types that are based on the premise that Dedmon is quiet. That may be the impression created by Dedmon’s admitted shyness in interviews, but he’s gregarious with his teammates and talkative with opponents during games.
“You need guys like that on your team that kind of give you that edge,” Bazemore said.
Dedmon said it’s “tough” to keeps spirits high on a team with the worst record in the NBA. Yet, with few exceptions, the Hawks have remained competitive throughout the season.
Dedmon has boosted the Hawks with his play and intangibles.
“Just trying to keep everybody together and playing together,” he said. “When we play together, we are a hard team to beat. If we just keep playing together, we will be all right.”