When Kent Bazemore signed a 4 year, $70 million contract with the Hawks last off-season it was met with somewhat mixed reactions. A lot of fans thought that was too much money for a player who had been nothing more than a role player his whole career, while others were excited to have him back after he had rather surprising 2015-2016 season filling the hole that Demarre Carroll left when he signed with Toronto. The team as a whole had a rather disappointing season. They managed to get into the playoffs as a 5th seed but won five less games than the previous season and were knocked out of the first round by Washington. No player had a more disappointing season than Kent Bazemore.
His numbers still turned out to be decent. He was able to average 11 points per game and shot 34% from behind the arc. But for a guy that just signed a fairly large contract and had no improvement from one season to the next really does not look good. It is hard to say if it was just a down season for Bazemore or if this is just the peak of what he can do on the court. There were a few flashes during the season where it looked like Bazemore might live up to his big contract but most of the season you could tell that something was off with his game. Halfway through the season Coach Bud even decided to move Bazemore to coming off the bench rather than starting, which actually seemed to benefit him more being a spark plug off the bench.
Despite losing his starting spot to rookie Taurean Prince and having a less than stellar season, with the new look for the Hawks this year I think this will be a great opportunity for #24. More than likely Baze will be a starter but will be playing the shooting guard position rather than small forward, which is his true position. Playing his true position could have some benefits to him feeling more comfortable on the court. Plus having a very young roster and Kent having been around for a few years should give him more chances at being one of the go-to guys on the team.
This will be a big year for Kent and it really needs to be. He’s still got 2 years left on his current contract but if he somehow regresses his play new GM Travis Schlenk will definitely be trying to move him as quickly as possible. While his contract will be hard to move Schlenk looks like he can get it done if he really wants to, especially after moving Dwight Howard and his bad contract to Charlotte this off-season. Bazemore seems to be a hard worker and looks like he’s been putting in the time this off-season to get ready for the upcoming season. This will be the year we see what kind of player Kent Bazemore really can be.