Atlanta Hawks: Has Kent Bazemore Earned More Minutes?


If competition truly breeds success then the Atlanta Hawks will have a pretty successful wing rotation, right? The migration of DeMarre Carroll to the north leaves a quartet of Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha, Justin Holiday, and Tim Hardaway Jr. in line to battle it out for a spot in the starting five.

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Common sense would suggest that Sefolosha has the early advantage, but until his fibula is completely healed and he is back on a basketball court there is no way to know if he will still be the same player. You can’t count that chicken until it hatches.

Holiday and Hardaway Jr. are new additions to the team and I wouldn’t expect either of them to start. Hardaway Jr. will likely come off the bench behind Kyle Korver and, while Holiday is promising, he is still a bit of a project.

Those are just my August thoughts, so either of those guys could certainly play well during training camp and make that prediction fall flat on its face. Still, my pick to replace Carroll is a guy that may not come to mind so easily. A fan favorite and the man that perfected the art of the bench celebration. An undrafted player that worked relentlessly to become an NBA player.

That player is, of course, Kent Bazemore. Could it possibly be all about that Baze, ‘bout that Baze, no Thabo in the starting lineup next season? Sorry about that, moving on.

His numbers were not exactly inspiring last season, but they didn’t have to be. In 17.7 minutes per game Bazemore averaged 5.2 points and 3 rebounds per game with a Player Efficiency Rating of 9.70. He only shot 42.6 percent from the field, but he did knock down 36.4 percent of his three-pointers.

When Kyle Korver went down with an ankle injury during the Eastern Conference Finals Bazemore stepped into the starting lineup. Bazemore scored 14 points (2-for-3 from deep) in 43 minutes during Game 3 and followed that up with 12 point, 8 rebound performance in Game 4.

He also had a 23 game stint with the Lakers where he played 28 minutes a night. During that stretch he held his own, averaging 13.1 points per game and shooting 37.1 percent from three-point range. Those numbers are nothing earth shattering, but they are enough to show that when given an increased role he can perform well enough to be a functional rotation player.

Whether or not his play actually warrants a more significant role is debatable, but Mike Budenholzer may not have a choice. As I noted earlier, he has several options for the wing rotation, but uncertainty still abounds.

There are more questions than answers at this point. How will Thabo Sefolosha recover from his broken fibula? Will Korver be slowed down by two offseason surgeries? How quickly will Tim Hardaway Jr. fit into the offense and will his subpar defense keep him from playing big minutes? How long will it take for Justin Holiday to develop as a shooter? Bazemore may be the most reliable option.

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  • Bazemore isn’t a star, but given the circumstances he could be exactly what the Hawks need at small forward. He is a decent three-point shooter, a good teammate, and an active defender. At 6-foot-5 he is a bit undersized, but he can make up for that with his quickness and intelligence. The small-ball revolution is upon us so you can get away with playing small these days. There is one thing for certain, if given an opportunity to start, Bazemore will work as hard as he possibly can and play his part to the best of his abilities. There is no doubting his work ethic.

    All those questions may not be answered until a few weeks into the season. In the meantime, let the speculation roll on.

    Next: Jeff Teague Gives Back

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