Hawks Guard Kent Bazemore Ready for His Playoff Moment

By Brian Kotloff | May 22, 2015

Two years ago, Kent Bazemore was known more for his skills on an NBA bench rather than an NBA court.

Then a rookie with the Warriors, Bazemore’s celebrations made him a cult hero in the Bay Area. “The NBA’s #1 towel-waver,” he was labeled, complete with a YouTube highlight compilation for proof.

But those in Santa Cruz — where Golden State’s NBA Development League affiliate plays — saw glimpses of the talent that got the long (7-foot wingspan), 6-5 combo guard to the NBA in the first place, and made him a standout as a senior at Old Dominion University.

Bazemore averaged 20.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.7 steals in seven NBA D-League games during his first two seasons. A trade to the depleted Lakers a year ago gave him an opportunity to showcase his skills, and his impressive 23-game run (13.1 points, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals) earned him some stability in Atlanta.

Now in the first-year of a two-year free-agent deal with the Hawks, Bazemore may once again find a time to shine: With DeMarre Carroll at best hobbled and at worst sidelined for Friday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals (TNT, 8:30 PM ET, it’s on Bazemore to step in as Atlanta’s starter on the wing and its primary defender of LeBron James.

“It’s great. It’s a great platform to show what you can do,” the 25-year-old told reporters at shootaround. “They brought me here as a defender and that’s my job. What a great measuring stick to go up against one of the best.”

In Game 1, Bazemore delivered his best performance of the playoffs with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes, including a pair of highlights:

And he isn’t the only player on the underdog-turned-favorite Hawks who took a circuitous route to the NBA.

In fact, Bazemore’s story mirrors many across the Atlanta locker room; the Hawks feature eight NBA D-League alums — tied with Toronto for the most among playoff teams — including Carroll, second-year guard Dennis Schroder and subs Mike Muscala and Mike Scott.

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