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NBA AM: Kent Bazemore’s Story Of Perseverance

Kent Bazemore’s NBA journey is a story of perseverance that ultimately earned him a mega deal in free agency.

Lang Greene

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There are some old-school observers of the game who believe that a player’s ultimate destiny in the league is clearly visible after their first three seasons. However, if you tried to apply this line of thinking to Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore, the assessment wouldn’t be accurate.

As a rookie during the 2012-13 campaign, Bazemore logged just 267 total minutes in 61 appearances for the Golden State Warriors. After his rookie campaign, Bazemore was more known for his end of the bench celebrations than his contributions on the floor, which culminated in the forward being motion captured for the NBA 2K14 video game.

During his second season, Bazemore saw even less run with the Warriors and was subsequently shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline in exchange for Steve Blake and MarShon Brooks. In 23 games with the Lakers, the signs of potential started to emerge as he averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists. In free agency that summer, Bazemore inked a modest two-year, $4 million deal to join the Atlanta Hawks.

What’s transpired since July 2014 has undoubtedly surprised many.

After thriving in a supporting role during the Hawks’ 60-win 2014-15 campaign, Bazemore became a full-time starter last season and responded with a career-year. He averaged 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 36 percent from three-point range (on 109 makes).

Bazemore’s breakthrough campaign pushed the former Old Dominion standout to the front of the line as a highly sought after free agent this past summer. But after entertaining and weighing overtures from multiple other suitors around the league, Bazemore elected to re-sign with the Hawks on a four-year deal worth $70 million.

For a guy once known more for his towel-waving, the financial commitment Atlanta invested in him seemingly put a definitive stamp on his hard work and personal sacrifice.

“It was a combination of a lot of things,” Bazemore told Basketball Insiders on securing his new deal. “Working hard your entire life to stick around in the league. It’s hard to get here, but it’s even harder to stay around. For me, it was huge – to be able to cement yourself and know you’re going to be in one place for a real chunk of time.”

Bazemore was surrounded by friends when his deal became official, but the first call he placed was back home to his mother to inform her of the life-changing news.

“My mom [was my first call],” Bazemore said. “I was with everyone else, I was actually at a wedding in Chicago when it happened. I called my mom and she was going crazy [along] with my little brother.

“It’s a great moment in our culture when things like that happen, it’s a huge moment for everyone. Everyone that grew up with me, everyone that has been there, it’s always a huge moment. It was just a time to rejoice and put a smile on someone’s face.”

Bazemore’s points, rebounds and assists stats this season, on the surface, are in line with last season’s production. However, there has been noticeable deterioration in his field goal percentage (44 to 36 percent) and three-point marksmanship (36 to 29 percent).

The fifth-year veteran maintains he isn’t pressing and trying to do too much after inking the new contract this past summer and believes that his shooting stroke will return once the team gets into a more consistent rhythm.

“The synergy hasn’t been as good as we like it,” Bazemore said. “Basketball has a very distinct synergy and when the ball’s moving, guys are moving, bodies are moving, it shocks our rhythm. A lot of us find ourselves taking not so good shots, maybe a shot we could have passed, or whatever. It’s just a combination of a lot of things, but we’re still working. I’m still in the gym, still in the weight room, doing everything I can to help my team get some wins.”

The 2016-17 Hawks have been one of the league’s toughest riddles to solve during the early going. The team roared to a 9-2 start to begin the campaign, but have since dropped 10 of their past 11 contests – including seven straight defeats.

Are the Hawks closer to their hot start or has reality set in, putting their streak of nine consecutive playoff appearances in jeopardy?

“We’re trying to figure that out,” Bazemore said. “We’ve been really good and really bad – we know we’re capable of both. We’ve taken the right measures to try and turn it around, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

“I think each game we played a lot better for a longer period of time, it’s just about putting it together for 48 minutes. Watching film, meetings and working, just getting back in the gym. We’ve been on the road for a while, so it’s good to be home and get back into your own practice gym, feel that hunger, that grit, and get ready to play again.”

The Hawks will attempt to end their current seven-game losing streak at home on Wednesday versus the injury-ravaged Miami HEAT.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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