Consistency is key for Kent Bazemore this season

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 22: Kent Bazemore
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 22: Kent Bazemore /

Kent Bazemore is an easy player to root for. He’s a great guy off the court and plays hard on the court.

Kent Bazemore is a team-first player and has developed his game within the Atlanta Hawks system. The Hawks need Bazemore to play a leadership role on this young team and that starts with consistency on the court.

Much has been made about Kent Bazemore and the 4-year, $70 million contract he signed with the Atlanta Hawks prior to last season. That contract created unrealistic expectations from many fans who suddenly thought he was going to average 20 points/game and morph into a completely different player.

Prior to last season, he was a fan favorite. That all changed after the contract. If you compare his 2015-16 season with this past season, he definitely took a step back but it wasn’t to the level that some people might think.

Let’s compare…

Per Game Stats
2015-16: 27.8 MP, 11.6 PTS, 5.1 RBS, 2.3 AST, 1.3 STL, 44.1% FG%, 35.7% 3PT%, 81.5% FT%
2016-17: 26.9 MP, 11.0 PTS, 3.2 RBS, 2.4 AST, 1.2 STL, 40.9% FG%, 34.6% 3PT%, 70.8% FT%

Per 100 Possessions/Advanced Stats
2015-16: 99 OFF RTG, 100 DEF RTG, 20.0% USG%, 13.4 PER
2016-17: 97 OFF RTG, 106 DEF RTG, 20.5% USG%, 11.5 PER

From a per game perspective, there’s not much difference other than rebounding and shooting numbers. The advanced stats tell us he declined both offensively (slightly) and defensively and was a less efficient player overall (PER) with about the same usage rate.

I expect Bazemore to bounce back on defense and as a rebounder. I’m projecting he’ll start as the two-guard which is his more natural position given his size. He should defend and rebound better from that position as well.

It becomes more interesting when you dive into his shooting numbers. This is where consistency, or lack thereof, comes into play. These are his shooting numbers over the past two seasons.
2015-16 Season:
October-January: 40.6% 3PT% (72-177)
February-April: 29% 3PT% (37-128)

2016-17 Season:
October-December: 27% 3PT% (30-110)
January-April: 39.7% 3PT% (62-156)

Kent Bazemore
ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 24: Kent Bazemore /

So what type of shooter is he? If you combine the first half of 2015-16 and the second half of 2016-17, that’s a pretty good shooter. Most feel he can be in the 35%-37% range. His numbers average out around 35% over the past two seasons.

However, being a consistent 35% shooter versus the peaks and valleys shown above are two very different things. The Hawks need a consistent 35% three-point shooter (preferably better) across the entire season.

Aside from the numbers, especially early last season, it was easy to see he was trying to create more off the dribble, attack more in the pick and roll and generally take a more assertive approach on offense. Maybe he felt the pressure of the contract.

Maybe he felt he needed to after the Hawks lost Al Horford and would be more limited on offense. Either way, that’s not necessarily his strength. He’s at his best when he’s getting out in transition, slashing to the rim in the half-court, knocking down catch and shoot jump shots and being a pest on defense.I expect a bounce back season from Kent Bazemore.

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The numbers show he has the capability to be a valuable piece in this offense. It all comes down to his ability to consistently knock down shots. The Hawks are looking for Bazemore to take the next step and maybe even multiple steps forward next season. For this to happen, consistency is most important.