ATLANTA — This is the most important season of DeAndre’ Bembry’s career.
He entered the 2018-19 campaign with an impending option from the team lingering, and he had only seen the floor a combined 64 times in his first two seasons in the NBA.
Although the 2016 first round draft pick has shown flashes of promise, Bembry still has to prove that he can remain healthy and a big enough asset to remain on an NBA roster this season.
Only a couple of day before the regular season began, the Hawks announced that Bembry would be included in the young trio of Taurean Prince and John Collins of getting his $2.6 million option picked up for a fourth year. Two weeks into the new season, the former first round pick has played in the most consistent rotational role of his professional career.
“[I] was just trying to get my body right,” Bembry said of his most recent offseason’s routine. “Staying in the gym. When we got a new coach with Lloyd [Pierce], I’ve been with him since day one with the summer league team. Just getting my body right and working out, and I feel like it’s working so far.”
Bembry is currently averaging 8.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists a night, but his main impact hasn’t been displayed through the typical stat line.
The energy that the 6-foot-6 wing has brought on both sides of the ball is the type of play off of the bench that helped power the Hawks to their home-opening comeback victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
“I think DeAndre’s spirit and his energy has been great,” Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce said during last Saturday’s post-game press conference against the Chicago Bulls. “We put him all over the place defensively. He’s guarding a lot of guys, being one of the guys tonight, but I think he’s given us what he has. He’s a competitor, he’s an athlete, he’s an attacker. I love what he’s been doing since this season has started.”
Bembry’s play and presence this season in particular is not only important for him personally, but for the rest of the team, as well. On a roster that features four rookies and three second-year players, the veteran leadership on the team begins with the 24-year-olds Prince and Bembry.
“It’s a different type of feel,” Bembry said. “I’ve been on older teams before, so seeing all of these younger guys I definitely feel like I can help, but we also have a couple of older guys like Vince [Carter] and Jeremy Lin that can help us, as well. I mean, we’re still young ourselves.”
Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bembry has previously said that the former Tar Heel Carter was his favorite player growing up.
“It’s been dope. If you can play with someone that you’ve been watching since you were younger, it was definitely a dream, but I’m past Vince Carter now,” he said. “I’m trying to beat him in practice every day, but it’s been pretty dope so far.”
Moving forward, Bembry said that he will continue to work on his core and his jump shot on the court. Off the court, he said that his family has continued to support him through his ups and downs during his first couple of seasons.
The No. 95 jersey, which he sports to honor his late brother who was born in 1995, looks to continue to engrave himself more into the franchise’s future plans game-after-game.