Hawks player preview: Kent Bazemore

The Hawks are set to begin training camp on Sept. 26. I'm previewing one player each day leading up to camp (in alphabetical order).

Kent Bazemore

Position: SG/SF

Height/Weight: 6-5, 201

Age: 28 (7/1/89)

2017-18 salary: $16.91 million

CARMELO projected value: $4 million

How acquired: 2016 free agent (cap space)

OFFENSE

After his breakout 2015-16 season and subsequent $70 million contract, Bazemore’s offensive game became more perimeter-focused: average shot distance of 14.8 feet last season compared to 12.7 feet in 2015-16, according to Basketball Reference. That’s not always a bad thing but it was for Bazemore because he didn’t take as many threes and shot significantly worse on twos. As a result, Bazemore’s effective field-goal percentage dipped to 47.3 percent last season compared to .517 in 2015-16.

Kent Bazemore play type: spot-up (via NBA.com)

Season Possesions Frequency Pts per poss League percentile
2016-17 235 25.6 0.89 34.9
2015-16 279 30.1 0.99 59.7

Bazemore is a good athlete with a long wingspan but his efforts to attack more often on the pick-and-roll last season produced disappointing results.

Kent Bazemore play type: pick-and-roll ballhandler

Season Possesions Frequency Pts per poss League percentile
2016-17 207 22.5 0.73 33.8
2015-16 140 15.1 0.59 15.9

Bazemore is good as a transition scorer but this is another area where the results could be better considering his athleticism and build.

Season Possesions Frequency Pts per poss League percentile
2016-17 177 19.3 1.05 39.9
2015-16 217 23.4 1.07 41.8

During the 2015-16 season Paul Milsap and Tim Hardaway ranked Nos. 2 and No. 3 in usage among Hawks regulars. Bazemore was No. 3 and figures to get more offensive chances. He’s a solid passer but likely will have to be a much more efficient scorer if the Hawks are to be a better offensive team.

Two realistic ways Bazemore could improve as a scorer is to shoot more threes or continue to draw contact while improving his free-throw shooting. Bazemore’s free-throw rate went up last season but the percentage made dropped from a career-high 81.5 to 70.8, near his career mark of 69.1 percent.

DEFENSE

The boxscore stats (and observation) suggest that Bazemore is a good defender. The Defensive Real-Plus Minus metric says Bazemore dropped off considerably last season. FiveThirtyEight.com’s forecast, which uses a defensive metric that is two-thirds DPRM and one-third Box Plus/Minus, puts Bazemore in the “defensive specialist” category because of his high steals rate and positive plus-minus impact.

What's clear is that Bazemore’s defensive rebounding fell off last season. If he gets back to his normal rebound rate that would be a bonus for the team’s best veteran defender on the wing.

OUTLOOK

Bazemore's context on the Hawks has changed drastically over two seasons.

Bazemore developed into a real pro and became a complementary piece on a Hawks team with title aspirations. Then he became a highly-paid, complementary piece on a still-solid but declining team. Now Bazemore probably is the No. 2 scoring option on a team that jettisoned its best three offensive players from last season and is projected to end up in the lottery.

Bazemore projects to be the starting off guard alongside Dennis Schroder. He will carry a heavy load at both ends of the floor as well as provide much of the leadership. The Hawks can count on Bazemore as a defender and he's shown the ability to be a better offensive player than last season.

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.
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