Atlanta Hawks: DeAndre’ Bembry Was Most Improved Player Last Season

A look at DeAndre’ Bembry’s season for the Atlanta Hawks in 2018-19, and why he ranks as the Most Improved Player for the team.

For the first time in his career, DeAndre’ Bembry of the Atlanta Hawks made it through a full season with his team. In his rookie season of 2016-17, the Hawks were still a playoff team in the ill-fated Dwight Howard season and Taurean Prince received most of the rookie minutes that year.

When Bembry did enter the game in 38 contests in his rookie year, he certainly brought the energy and athleticism, but he seemed a bit raw and undisciplined.

Bembry’s second year of 2017-18 was meant to be his breakout campaign, but it was marred by a series of injuries that limited his explosiveness and only allowed him to see time in 26 games, though his per-game minutes lifted to 17.5 per game.

With the team in its first year of a full rebuild with Coach Mike Budenholzer still at the helm, the 2017-18 season was something of a bridge year between the Lloyd Pierce/Trae Young/Kevin Huerter era, but Bembry was unable to make his mark that season – while his fellow 2016 rookie Taurean Prince, once again, thrived when the ball was put in his hands down the end of the year.

Finally, in the 2018-19 season, Bembry was able to stay fully healthy and produced sterling statistics on all fronts. Bembry had always been able to get to the rim at will as he had been in the 95th percentile or higher in at-rim attempt percentage per Cleaning the Glass but finishing there had always been a problem.

This past season, Bembry shot 58 percent at the rim per Cleaning the Glass, which, while not inspiring, represented a career-high for the 25-year-old. Per Basketball Reference, Bembry also produced career-highs in points per game (8.4), rebounds per game (4.4), assists per game (2.5), steals per game (1.3) and blocks per game (0.5).

He also produced a barrage of highlights during his best professional season:

Where Bembry truly showed his worth was on defense, where he was easily the best perimeter defender on the entire Atlanta Hawks roster. His defensive player impact plus/minus, per BBall Index, bore that out with the second-highest DPIPM on the team at 0.8. Dewayne Dedmon ranked first at 1.1.

Bembry will be with the Atlanta Hawks for at least one or more season, and though he’s a few years older than the young core, the Hawks should keep Bembry around for the long haul – especially considering he’s now the longest-tenured Hawk on the entire roster. Who’s second? That would be third-year big man John Collins. Wow.