Kent Bazemore signs my game booklet before the Hawks/Suns matchup in April.
Kent Bazemore used to be well known. Not for his play on the court, but for his wild and hilarious bench celebrations. Coming into this season, Kent averaged around (4.5 Points Per Game) over the course of his career. With the departure of Demarre Carroll, Hawks fans knew we’d have Bazemore or “Bazegod” as some fans have referenced would have to shoulder a much bigger role. On the night of our season opener against the Detroit Pistons, he was named the starting small forward and he could barely contain his excitement. Bazemore later admitted that it got to him that night and he didn’t play “his game”. His first breakout game came on November 7th against the Washington Wizards where he took over in the 4th quarter to lead the Hawks to victory.
Baze celebrates during a Hawks’ run in Portland @ATLHawks
Even while being a major contributor, Baze stayed true to his inner self. Whenever not in the game he could still be found on the bench wildly celebrating anytime he could. He would also get other teammates involved in the fun. The Hawks weren’t winning many games during January and February but the antics of Kent kept the team loose and together. When the Hawks second half surge began in March, a new and perhaps the most popular celebration of the NBA regular season emerged; the Baze Gaze. After every Hawks win Bazemore would video bomb whomever was being interviewed after Hawks victory Post-Game Interview.
Horford gets BazeGazed with special guest Dennis Schroder
On the court, Kent Bazemore enjoyed a career year. He averaged (11.6) Points Per Game, (5.1) Rebounds Per Game, (2.3) Assists Per Game and (1.3) Steals Per Game. He also used his top notch athleticism to become an above average defender. Throughout the season, Bazemore provided some clutch moments in 4th quarters even leading the Hawks to victory a few times. This biggest moment of his career came in Game Five of the Hawks/Celtics series. The Hawks were struggling to buy a basket and were down double digits to the Boston Celtics at home and the crowd was lifeless and disappointed. In the blink of an eye, Kent erupted, hitting multiple threes and spring boarding the Hawks from down 12 to up nearly 10 at the half. He single handily swung the momentum of that game and ultimately that run sealed the series for the Hawks.
Fan favorite, Kent Bazemore enters Free Agency this off-season and will likely receive a large pay day. I remain confident the Hawks can re-sign him, however if another team lands him, they should be ecstatic. They would be getting a true professional workhorse and someone who seems to be a great locker room guy.
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil