For Hawks, Bazemore’s Career Year Can’t Stop Trade Rumors

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 29: Kent Bazemore
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 29: Kent Bazemore /

Kent Bazemore, the Atlanta Hawks starting shooting guard, has been involved in quite a few trade rumors recently (even on this very site), and many of them involve the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs desperately need some backcourt help as Isaiah Thomas was not the savior at point guard that many ill-informed fans might’ve thought he was, and Derrick Rose has been supremely ineffective in his first year in Cleveland.

Bazemore, on the other hand, has had a strong season in Atlanta as one of the Hawks’ primary ballhandlers and a locker-room stalwart. Baze has been particularly effective as a playmaker – using his speed and athleticism to drive into the lane and set up his teammates on a consistent basis.

Baze already has a career-high 189 assists on the year, and there’s still 29 games left to play for Atlanta. Kent’s assist rate of 19.9 percent is the highest in his career by more than 4 percentage points, and his 22.6 usage percentage is tied for second-highest in his career.

While Baze has often been labeled as offensively challenged, he has improved his stock this season by being more aggressive driving to the basket, as well as improving his three-point stroke to a near 40 percent clip: On a career-high 4.3 three-point attempts per game, Bazemore is shooting 38.9 percent from deep.

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Those are stellar numbers for Baze and his overall efficiency has jumped to a career-high 15.1 Player Efficiency Rating and 0.5 offensive win shares. Another reason for jumps in these categories is Kent’s propensity for getting to the free throw line.

With a career-high 169 free throw attempts already in the books, Baze is upping his scoring totals and overall efficiency by taking advantage of those free points. He is also averaging 3.2 free throws a game, which is a career-high and the second-highest per game average on the team (behind only his backcourt mate Dennis Schröder).

Lastly, Bazemore has also been a reliable performer in the clutch, and he seems to step his game up when a bout’s outcome is on the line – something that will frequently happen if he were to end up on a playoff-bound team.

Kent leads the Hawks in clutch minutes with 85 and is second on the team in clutch scoring with 54 points (clutch games are defined as when a game’s point differential is less than five with less than 5 minutes left). Baze improves on his three-point shooting when the game is on the line, as he has drilled 6 of 13 clutch three-pointers (46.2%) including this game-winner against the New York Knicks over the weekend:

Where Bazemore would truly help the Cavs, however, would be on the defensive end. Though it has been Kent’s offense that has taken a step forward this season, his defensive prowess has always been rather highly regarded.

Baze has been a steals machine this season, leading the Hawks with a 2.9 percent steal rate (which also happens to be 5th in the entire league). Baze has also banked 88 total steals this season, which is only 10 away from a career-high. Those 88 total steals is also 7th in the entire league among heady company such as LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and Eric Bledsoe.

With trade rumors swirling all around the league in advance of Thursday’s 3:00 p.m. EST deadline, Kent Bazemore is certainly available for the right offer.

The Hawks will be looking to get a first-round draft pick in return for Baze, who is providing solid value in the second year of a massive 4 year/$70 million contract he signed in the summer of ’16.

Next: Atlanta Hawks Trade Deadline Outlook

We shall see what Atlanta intends to do this trade deadline, as the team has quite a few expiring contracts (Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, Dewayne Dedmon) that should be moved before truly seeking out a deal that involves Bazemore.