Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
NBA bench warmer one night, NBADL star the next. Though Kent Bazemore hasn't hit the NBA hardwood too much this season, his continued success in the D-League is sure to make it difficult to keep him off the court for too long as his Superman act goes on.
It's undoubtedly difficult for NBA rookies to make a seamless switch from college ball to the pros. Such a transition is often a long learning process, complete with bumps in the road during which these prospects pay their big league dues.
Kent Bazemore has been learning that all season long, as member of the playoff-contending Golden State Warriors. The guard hasn't seen much playing time in Golden State, only averaging 1.6 minutes though sixteen early appearances this far.
But that doesn't mean the Warriors have been turning their heads on his development completely. Prior to the explosion of Fab Melo onto the D-League scene, it was Bazemore who logged what was arguably the best outing by an NBA assignee to date, scoring 27 points on an efficient 9 of 15 from the field, and also grabbing 9 rebounds and 5 steals in a Santa Cruz victory on November 30th.
After still not getting much shine in The Association over the next three weeks, Bazemore returned to the NBADL prior to Christmas, and logged another 18 points (while also still grabbing an efficient 7 boards and 5 more steals) as the D-League Warriors soared to a second victory with the NBA rookie in town.
As if 18 points weren't enough, Bazemore set his sights on matching his season-high during the minor league Warriors' game against the lowly Iowa Energy on Thursday night. Missing the mark by one single point, the guard still poured in 26 points, swiping yet another unprecedented 5 steals. His impact on the contest was absolutely felt, as evidenced in his plus/minus of +9 for Santa Cruz. With a decisive 113-101 win, the Warriors improved to 3-0 with Bazemore leading the way.
NBA bench warmer one night, rising up as an NBADL star the next. The relationship between the NBA and D-League (paired up with the close locations between direct affiliates) has helped Bazemore with his Superman like transformation overnight multiple times now.
The guard can undoubtedly score in bunches, and doesn't appear afraid to embrace the big moment. With a knack for knocking it down anywhere on the court, Bazemore is very bold in his shot selection. That said, he's shown consistency enough early on to warrant continuing to take those same shots. Of course, scorers are a dime a dozen in the NBA, but Bazemore's quick release and aggressiveness on offense help him effectively catch opponents off guard. He's utterly fearless, and opposing teams often don't know what just hit them when Bazemore starts connecting for a bevy of shots.
Bazemore hasn't quite gotten his chance yet in The Association, but his time will come. In the meantime, he'll simply continue to fill it up in the D-League and impressing in practice as he looks to prove his worth.