On July 7th, 2016, Kent Bazemore signed a 4-year, $70 million contract for the Atlanta Hawks. It was a feel good moment for both the franchise and the player, as Bazemore was simply an undrafted bench hype man and role-player that bounced around the league before coming into his own for the Hawks.
Since the beginning of this season however, his contract has been a popular topic of debate. Some fans claim his play has regressed since his 2015-2016 season and that his contract was a reactionary over-payment by the Hawks, while others say he is performing well in less tangible aspects and deserves the contract from his class and effort shown since his arrival in Atlanta.
|2015 – 2016 (75 games)||27.8||44.1||35.7||11.6|
|2016 – 2017 (through 54 games)||27.4||39.8||33.2||10.8|
From comparing his stats from the 2015 season and the 2016 season, we can see Bazemore is playing about the same minutes in both seasons, but the majority of his offense stats have decreased. His FG% has dropped about 4 percent, and his points per game has dropped almost a full point.
Some critics might say Bazemore had a rough start to the year, but he has recently found his groove in the offense again so his stats are skewed but he is playing well. Perhaps this is a fair point, but from comparing his PPG by month, a strange trend is revealed. He averaged 8.7 points per game in October, 12.1 in November, 7.8 in December, and averaged 13.3 points per game in January, where he seemingly found his rhythm. But currently, he is averaging just 9.1 points a game in February. It looks like he is having trouble maintaining consistent offensive production.
From further examining his game splits and game log, Bazemore is in a word, streaky. He has followed 20+ point performances with single digit point performances multiple times this season. He has nights where he seemingly can’t miss, but he also has plenty of nights where he is struggling to find his shot on the floor.
However, Bazemore is known for his defensive play more than his offense. In fact, his defense was often the only thing keeping him on an NBA roster in his early years in the league. This year, he has still played well on the defensive side of the ball as compared to last year, averaging 1.3 steals a game (same as 2015) and 0.7 blocks a game (0.5 in 2015). There have been some criticisms of his off-ball defense, but overall he seems to be consistently as solid on defense as the previous season.
So has Bazemore regressed? You tell me. He’s a solid defender that has some stellar offensive potential, but he can’t always tap into that potential. As for his contract, he isn’t exactly playing at the level you would want for someone earning over $15 million per year. He still has the chance to improve, and if he can play more consistent in the coming seasons, then maybe he’ll justify his price tag.