What Kent Bazemore's Hot Start Means for the Atlanta Hawks

Bazemore has put up big numbers as a starter and a as a bench player this year.

Following a 60-win campaign last season, the Atlanta Hawks have played good not great basketball to start this season.

With a 14-11 record, they are just 2.5 games back of the 1 seed in the Eastern Conference -- but currently would miss the playoffs if they began today.

Frontcourt mates Al Horford and Paul Millsap lead Atlanta, but an unsung hero of this group so far this year is fourth-year player Kent Bazemore.

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks in 2014 and appeared in 75 games last season. He played about 18 minutes per game but was mostly an afterthought in their offense. However, an opportunity arose for Bazemore this season, as he replaced Thabo Sefolosha as Atlanta’s starting small forward due to an injury to Sefolosha.

Bazemore has taken full advantage of his playing time and has become one of the Hawks’ most important players.

Appearing in 20 of Atlanta’s 25 games, Bazemore has averaged 27.1 minutes per game. He’s posted 16.1 points per-36 minutes (second best in his career), and added 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per-36, while shooting career-bests 47.6% from the field and 42.9% from behind the arc.

Also, our nERD statistic, which measures how many wins a player would add to a league-average team over a full season, has Bazemore at 2.6, which is a career-high.

From a team perspective, Bazemore ranks third on the Hawks in both Defensive Rating (102) and Offensive Rating (108). He also ranks fifth on the squad in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) at 16.6, third in Win Shares per 48 minutes at .126, and second in True Shooting percentage at 59.1%.

Needless to say, Bazemore has become an integral part of the Hawks’ success so far this year.

With Sefolosha’s return to the lineup two weeks ago, Bazemore has been coming off the bench more recently. However, that has not stopped him from producing at nearly the same rate.

In seven games as a reserve, at 24 minutes a game, Bazemore has registered an Offensive Rating of 107 and a Defensive Rating of 103. He has continued to fill up the box score as well, as Bazemore has poured in 12.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in limited minutes. Most importantly, he’s continued to shoot a high percentage, 41.7% from three-point range and a 55.2% True Shooting percentage.

Kent Bazemore has carved out a nice role for himself with the Atlanta Hawks, who are hoping to contend once again in the Eastern Conference.

Whether off the bench or in the starting lineup, the team knows Bazemore will be ready when his number is called.