Early in the season, it was DeAndre Bembry, not Taurean Prince, who was called upon at times in a bench role for the Hawks. However, the late season emergence of Prince left Bembry in his shadow heading into the offseason. Prince was a playoff starter, while Bembry did not log any minutes.
The Hawks have undergone major changes this offseason. Kent Bazemore will start at the two spot with Tim Hardaway Jr. leaving the team. Veterans Thabo Sefolosha and Mike Dunleavy are also gone, paving the way for an extended role for Bembry. And after his performance in the summer league, he appears ready to assume that role.
Bembry was not great as a rookie. We saw some great defensive work from him in spot duty, but his jumper made him a liability on the offensive end. But at the end of the day, he was a first rounder just a year ago. Many of Coach Bud’s young players he has inherited made huge strides in year two once getting used to his system. Look at the likes of Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr. Hopefully Prince and Bembry can continue this trend.
Bembry played with way more confidence in the summer league. Sure, it is summer league, but seeing him hit threes is big news for the Hawks, though it is a small sample size. Bembry has always had incredible versaility for the Hawks on offense, and he can guard four positions on defense. For this very reason, Bembry will find minutes at multiple positions for the Hawks next season, and could serve as a sixth man of sorts.
During summer league play, he averaged 17 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.8 steals. This stat line proves why he is a swiss army knife, much like Thabo Sefalosha was, and why he was such a special player for St. Joe’s. If Bembry can find any consistency with his outside stroke, he will play in this league for a long time. He hit three of his six attempted three pointers in Las Vegas.
If not for having two first rounders last summer, Bembry would be a much bigger topic of discussion. The difference between year one and two in summer league play was night and day. It is time for Bembry to translate this into regular season play. The minutes are certainly available.