Hawks forward DeAndre Bembry hopes to be a spark off the team’s bench this season after suffering several injuries last season.
Bembry played in just 26 games in his second year due to, most notably, a right wrist fracture that occurred in last season’s opener. However, Bembry came off the bench in the Hawks’ preseason, averaging 11.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
“That was my first actual game since I fractured my wrist last season,” Bembry said. “I am just trying to get used to being out there. I feel like I did decent, but I could do a lot better.”
Hawks first-year coach Lloyd Pierce enjoys Bembry’s positive spirit after his injury-stricken season, noting the great energy the 24-year old brings to the team. However, Pierce agrees that Bembry must improve in certain areas heading into the regular season.
“He’s been one of the guys that we’ve got to keep under control with the turnover issue, but I think he’s been great for us,” Pierce said.
Bembry latched onto NBA veteran Vince Carter during practice and the preseason, hoping to learn from the 21-year veteran. Pierce said throughout the preseason, Bembry has been “at Vince’s hip,” learning both on and off the court.
“He teaches me how to keep my body in shape, just starting off with that,” Bembry said. “You can learn from a guy who has been in the league for 21 years. I am just trying to pick up little things from him.”
On the court, Bembry’s lessons from the veteran were on display in the preseason. During the five exhibitions, Bembry displayed effective shooting and a spark mid-game for the starters.
“I definitely think I need to be that spark off the bench,” Bembry said. “I am trying to get a full season under my belt and trying to go out and play hard. That’s what I feel like I have done this preseason.”
The Hawks were 2-3 in the preseason with wins over the ]Pelicans and Spurs. In the win over the Pelicans, Bembry came off the bench to lead the Hawks with 20 points.
“It’s been in double figures in preseason,” Pierce said. “He’s done it in a very efficient manner: 46 percent from 3, close to or over 50 percent overall. He’s just been playing good basketball.”
The Hawks noticed Bembry’s success, picking up his fourth-year option on Monday. Bembry will earn $2.6 million for the option year. After his preseason play, Bembry finds comfort in what he can control within his position on the team.
“The only thing I can control is what I do on the court,” Bembry said. “That’s why I am trying to stay in the gym, stay in shape, keep my body healthy, and I know that will take me where I want to go.”
Bembry and the Hawks tip off the regular season Wednesday against the Knicks.
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