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Atlanta Hawks Season in Review: Kent Bazemore

How did Kent Bazemore go from fan favorite to shouldering a lot of the blame for the Hawks struggles?

Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last offseason, the Atlanta Hawks doubled down on Kent Bazemore making him a key piece of the team’s core going forward signing him to a four-year contract worth $70 million.

The contract in this instance is significant. Although he started slow, Bazemore wasn’t that much different from the player he was in 2016. His shooting numbers dipped a bit but that could be explained away due to the many other changes that Atlanta made last summer. He was a bargain player when he was making $2.5 million but now the Hawks need him to be something more.

Kent Bazemore Contract Data

2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
$15,730,338 $16,910,113 $18,089,887 $19,269,662

Per Basketball Insiders, there is a player’s option on the final year of Bazemore’s contract. He will turn 31 that summer which could make for an interesting decision on his part depending on how the next two seasons go.

Bazemore got off to a tough start in 2017 shooting less than 40 percent from the field over the first three months of the season. He bottomed out in December where he shot 33.6 percent from the field and made just 5 of 32 three-point attempts. He was also an uncharacteristic 16 for 30 from the free throw line in December so his shooting mechanics overall were completely off.

From that point on however, he found his groove. Bazemore shot a season-best 45 percent in January and knocked down an incredible 44 percent of his three-point attempts that month. His field goal percentage hovered right at 44 percent for January and February before dipping to 39 percent through five games in April.

In his breakout season, Bazemore shot 44 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range.

During the 2017 season, Bazemore’s stats dipped to 41 percent shooting and 35 percent from three-point range. Not that much different especially when you compare the shot charts.

The first shot chart was able to help secure him a $70 million contract yet the second one has largely been viewed as a disappointment.

The Hawks were no doubt looking for Bazemore to take another step forward this season but was that really a fair expectation? Maybe or maybe not.

He admitted during exit interviews that his offseason regiment last summer was disrupted due to injury and other events. Perhaps the biggest detriment to Bazemore’s game though was the other changes that Atlanta made last summer.

Bazemore was perhaps one of the biggest beneficiaries of Atlanta’s ball movement on the offensive end of the floor. That ball movement was absent for a lot of 2017 and that often left Bazemore holding the ball late in the shot clock and forced him to try and make a play which is not his game. It is fair to suggest that a player making the money that Bazemore is should be able to put the ball on the floor and make a play but surely Atlanta considered his strengths and weaknesses before giving him that contract.

Overall I don’t feel like Bazemore was that much of a different player this season although the fit was different. In 2016 he benefitted by playing next to Al Horford who often makes the players around him better at both ends of the floor. Atlanta replaced Horford with Dwight Howard who doesn’t have the same effect on the players around him.

So Bazemore’s season in a lot of ways mirrored the Hawks. Average. There is room for improvement, there is room for more consistency and it sounded like that was his focus heading into the offseason. If Bazemore’s game has another step forward left in it, then that will be a good thing for Atlanta.