DeAndre’ Bembry was drafted by the Hawks with the 21st overall selection in the 2016 NBA draft. He decided to enter the draft after his junior season as St. Joseph’s where he lead his team to an Atlantic 10 title and helped his team advance to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament; he was also awarded the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Even the best versions of the Hawks teams in the Mike Budenholzer era have consistently been characterized as being short of enough play-makers. Bembry was selected with the hope of addressing that deficiency.
Bembry did not see regular rotation minutes apart from a brief six-game stretch in February after Thabo Sefelosha went down with an injury. He was even playing ahead of fellow rookie Taurean Prince at that point in the season.
The highlight of the six game stretch included an opportunity to match up with James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the closing stretch of a game the Hawks would win in come from behind fashion. Being entrusted with the defensive responsibility of going up against a no doubt MVP candidate speaks volumes about what the Hawks organization sees in the defensive potential of Bembry.
Avoid making contact with him as he dribbles through the high screen action (Harden lead the league with 881 FT attempts including drawing more fouls on 3-point attempts than any other TEAM) and force him toward your rim protector where he will preferably take a runner as opposed to a lay up.
Also if Harden is able to use the screener to get a three-point attempt, work through the screen without making contact with the shooter, but do not let him take the shot in rhythm. This play is text book James Harden defense.
Bembry would ultimately find himself out of the rotation; the Hawks needed every ounce of perimeter shooting they could get this season as they saw their offensive performance sink to the bottom five of the league. Bembry will need to improve this area of his game as to secure regular playing time next season. Although this does not come as a surprise to the organization; Bembry shot just 63 percent at the free throw line across his collegiate career.
For now, Bembry is at his best offensively when he is attacking with confidence in transition. Although his volume of play this season does not offer the greatest sample size. He converted at an impressive rate in transition opportunities for a guard and did not have a single turnover in these opportunities. He is a solid finisher at the rim even in the half court offense. His skill in these areas should be a foundation of confidence for him as he works to develop as shooter.
Bembry played six games in the D-League this season and averaged 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Only two players matched his production in these areas and both are D-League veterans (Manny Harris and Elijah Millsap). His time in the D-League offered him an opportunity to play as a primary facilitator and he did well in the role.
This summer will offer Bembry the first opportunity to work consistently with a professional shooting coach. If he is able to become even an average shooter he is almost sure to become more than an acceptable rotation wing for the Hawks. If the Hawks are able to position themselves to play fast, Bembry and Prince could be an exciting pair of wings to watch grow together.