Atlanta Hawks: More Backup Point Guard Questions

Feb 4, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward DeAndre Bembry (95) passes around Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 113-86. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward DeAndre Bembry (95) passes around Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 113-86. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks still haven’t settled on a backup point guard. Who should get the job by the time the playoffs roll around?

Just before the season began, the Atlanta Hawks made their choice on who the backup point guard was going to be. During training camp, the Hawks chose to waive veteran point guard Jarrett Jack and hand the job to 27-year-old rookie Malcolm Delaney.

It was a move that made sense. Jack had torn his ACL the previous season. He wouldn’t be ready to play at the start of the season, and he hadn’t been particularly inspiring his last few seasons in the NBA. Meanwhile, Delaney was playing in European leagues, winning titles in France, Germany, and Ukraine three of the four years he played there.

More from Soaring Down South

The move seemed like it was going to be a great one. Over the first few weeks of the season, the Hawks bench looked unstoppable with him at the helm. During the Hawks incredible 9-2 start, Malcolm Delaney was 3rd in the league in net rating at a massive plus 25.5, including the best defensive rating in the NBA, among players playing at least 16 minutes per game. In his time on the court during the 11 games, the Hawks were 8.8 points better than their opponents.

Then the Hawks would go on to lose 10 of their next 11 games. Malcolm Delaney went from one of the premier bench players in the league to someone who would struggle to make most rotations. Delaney, the bench, and the Hawks as a whole haven’t been the same since.

After months of uninspiring point guard play from Delaney, as well as some failed ten-day contract experiments, the Hawks acquired Jose Calderon. In theory, it was a smart move. Calderon has proven his ability to be an elite NBA shooter, as well as capable of running an offense.

Unfortunately, theories are sometimes just that. For a five game stretch, Coach Budenholzer elected to roll with Calderon at backup point guard. In four out of those five games he scored two points or less in as well as two assists or less. In addition to his lack of offensive production, Calderon is also one of the worst defenders in the league.

Not only does the lack of dependable back up point guard play hurt the bench, it also hurts the starter. Dennis Schroder is averaging 31.1 minutes per game this season, but because Coach Bud can’t rely on either Delaney or Calderon for long stretches, that number is up to 32.3 in March with no signs of going down.

Related Story: Atlanta Has Lost Six Games In A Row

Schroder already has one of the heaviest workloads on the team, being arguably the only person on the team who is a threat to drive and finish at the rim, while also having to guard elite point guards on a regular basis. Schroder needs rest whenever he can get it, and those opportunities are growing slimmer every game.

So Malcolm Delaney and Jose Calderon seem to have proven they are not serviceable backup point guards, but those two aren’t the only two options the Hawks have. The Hawks could elect to give rookie DeAndre Bembry a chance at leading the second unit.

In his brief stints in the NBA, Bembry has shown potential. It hasn’t translated to tangible numbers yet, but just watching Bembry you can tell he has a great feel for the game, especially on defense. Most Hawks fans will remember the 20 point comeback win in Houston, but only some will cite Bembry as a key part of it.

Live Feed

NBA Trade Rumors: 1 Player from each team most likely to be traded in-season
NBA Trade Rumors: 1 Player from each team most likely to be traded in-season /

Sir Charles In Charge

  • NBA Power Rankings: Tiering all 30 projected starting point guards for 2023-24Sir Charles In Charge
  • 1 Advantage the Heat have over every Southeast Division teamAll U Can Heat
  • NBA rumors: Trae Young drops Hawks on Insta, Harden's only suitor, Kelly Oubre Jr. updateFanSided
  • NBA rumors: Trae Young trade buzz, Andre Drummond is a comedian, Wemby and KAT team upFanSided
  • 4 Trae Young trades the Hawks should considerFanSided
  • Not only did he have a career game on the offensive side of the ball with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists on 5-for-6 shooting, but was also tasked with defending likely MVP winner James Harden in the fourth quarter. After scoring 35 points in the first three-quarters, Harden was held to 6 points on 2-for-5 shooting in the game’s final quarter.

    As a passer, Bembry has very limited NBA experience, but he spent his college career running “point forward” for the St. Joseph’s Hawks. In his senior year, he led the team in assists per game at 4.5 and assisted on 24 percent of his team’s field goals while he was on the floor. While he may not have elite passing skills, he is fully capable of making all the passes you expect a backup point guard to be able to make.

    Bembry’s game only has one real weakness, but unfortunately it is one of the things that a point guard needs to be at least average at to be effective. The skill Bembry lacks is shooting. In his college career he shot a total of 31 percent from behind the three-point line and it has only gotten worse in the NBA. In 31 games and 300 minutes on NBA courts, Bembry has yet to make a three.

    However, regardless of who the Hawks choose to run with, they will not be putting a shooter at the position. Despite being a career 40 percent three-point shooter in Europe, Malcolm Delaney’s shot has not transferred to the NBA. He is shooting only 23 percent from behind the arc in his first NBA season.

    Jose Calderon is in a very similar situation. Calderon has long been known as a solid 3-point shooter. In 7 of his 12 NBA seasons, he has shot at least 40 percent from three. While it is great that he used to be a great shooter, he is only hitting 20 percent of his threes during his stint with the Hawks.

    Perhaps the greatest argument for giving Bembry a chance is a simple one. What do the Hawks have to lose? They know what they have in Delaney. They know what they have in Calderon. The only unknown in this situation is Bembry.

    Next: Does Atlanta's Playoff Streak Matter?

    Maybe Bembry excels running point guard or maybe he crashes and burns, but either way the Hawks need to find out what they have in him.