After Tuesday’s win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, coach Lloyd Pierce used the word “swagger” to describe DeAndre’ Bembry’s play style. In all honesty, it’s not just him that’s been playing with that swagger. Since December, the Hawks are 8-7. That’s better than teams like the Boston Celtics and Thunder, teams with a real shot of making the playoffs. Even with this stretch the Hawks are on, they’re still near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Something is different about this team now. With the improved play of many players and chemistry growing, the Hawks are showing that with time they can be a decent team.
The emergence of DeAndre’ Bembry
The swagger that coach Pierce talked about was real when it comes to Bembry. Due to injuries, he’s been inserted into the starting lineup and has been a big game changer for the team. Bembry is usually guarding the opposing team’s best player, and also has a big role on offense. Even before being inserted into the starting lineup, he’s been playing with the same fire and intensity that Pierce loves. If it’s grabbing rebounds, playing point guard, or locking up on the other side of the ball, Bembry will fill in wherever he is needed.
The confidence of Kevin Huerter
It seems like every game Kevin Huerter is breaking more out of his shell. When he first started getting minutes, he seemed timid and passive. Now, he’s pulling jumpers right in player’s faces. Huerter’s deep range has opened up many things for the Hawks offense and has left many teams keeping close attention on him. Not only is Huerter deadly as a spot-up shooter, but he can create his own shot as well. In the win over the Philadelphia 76ers, he was able to shake off Ben Simmons just a little to get open and tie the game up. He doesn’t have a problem getting to his spots and making plays for the team.
Collins and Young finding their groove
Since John Collins has returned from injury, he’s been putting up All-Star caliber numbers. Posting a double-double almost every other game is impressive for a second-year player. To add on to that, he’s been real efficient as well, shooting almost 60 percent from the field. This could be credited to him and Trae Young’s pick-and-roll game, which has improved through the season, and has helped Young as well.
After a rookie slump during November, Young has been performing like the player many expected. Over the last 16 games, he is shooting 46 percent from three. His assists have increased, and he’s found other ways to score other than just from deep. When him and Collins are playing at a high level and on the same page, it’s difficult to stop the Hawks at times.
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