In Pass-Heavy Hawks Offense, Bembry Should Fit Right In


Jacob breaks down DeAndre Bembry’s biggest strength using analytics and film…

The Atlanta Hawks have led the Eastern Conference in assists per game in each of the last two seasons. Ball movement and inclusiveness are founding principles in head coach Mike Budenholzer’s philosophy.

Knowing this, it came as no surprise when the Hawks targeted Saint Joseph’s DeAndre’ Bembry early in the scouting process, eventually selecting him with the 21st overall pick in the NBA Draft.

After all, Bembry was arguably the best passer in the college ranks last season — regardless of position.

Standing at 6’6 and with a long 6’9 wingspan, Bembry’s measurements suggest he’s perfectly sized to play on the wing in the NBA. However, when watching Bembry take control of the game, it’s clear he plays more like a second point guard on the offensive end of the floor.

“I could always pass the ball,” Bembry said at the Las Vegas Summer League. “It was always one of those things I was pretty good at in high school and college, so I found guys who were open and made the right pass, and they knocked it down for me. I’m pretty confident in my passing ability.”

Bembry’s skillset is unique. He’s a home-run passer who anticipates cuts and openings several frames before they occur:

However, even with his flashy dimes, he rarely turns the ball over. He coughed up the ball on just 11.1% of his possessions last year at St. Joe’s, a rate that ranked him in the 90th percentile for ball control in the NCAA — per Synergy Sports Technology.

What makes Bembry’s NBA potential so intriguing is his ability to pass in virtually any situation.

Watch as he orchestrates this fast break layup by delegating his teammate’s cut at Summer League. It’s subtle, but observe closely as he clearly waves with his right hand for Brandon Ashley to flash to the rim prior to passing the ball:

For Atlanta, a team filled with marksmen gunners up and down the roster, Bembry’s propensity for hitting open shooters on the perimeter should be a perfect compliment. Last season, nearly 50% of Bembry’s assists came on three-pointers – an absurdly-high rate. He even showed off some of that ability with style in Las Vegas:

When asked about how he expects to fit in with the Hawks’ ball-moving approach, Bembry responded confidently:

“[I expect to fit in] very easily,” he explained. “It’s a team-first chemistry, and that’s what I’m about. Trying to get my teammates involved. I get a lot of assists, and they also need some guys who can get to the rim, and I’m one of those guys as well.”

In college, Bembry was almost always guarded by opposing teams’ best defenders. Regardless, he proved capable of driving to the rim at will, forcing defenses to collapse in from the perimeter — where he would eventually find teammates for open spot-up opportunity:

Bembry’s unique ability to pass with either hand makes him a total threat. He routinely dished pinpoint dimes through traffic with his left hand, a skill even the best NBA passers can struggle with:

When asked what his biggest adjustment from college to the pros will be, Bembry noted how there already seems to be more room for him to operate on the floor:

“I guess the floor spacing,” he remarked. “There’s so much open court here in the NBA. I’m used to guys being in the lane overthinking about me. Now I’m not getting any respect, so I can play in my space to create a play or get myself a shot.”

The Hawks are always looking for playmakers like Bembry to step up. While he’s not yet a finished product offensively, Bembry’s passing should instantaneously make him a fan favorite.

Story by Jacob Eisenberg
Twitter: @Eisenberg43

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