The Atlanta Hawks have 70 million reasons to continue inserting Kent Bazemore into the starting lineup on game day and each one comes in the form of a dollar. Bazemore was signed to a four year 70 million dollar contract this past summer and has NOT lived up to even the slightest expectations set upon him by the organization and fans alike. The Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer maybe hesitant to remove Bazemore from the starting lineup because of the huge financial investment committed him. On one hand this is slightly understandable but doing right by the fans and team as a whole should be the number one priority at all times. The time has come for Hawks management to put their pride to the side and admit they made a mistake. Coach Budenholzer needs to look no further than to his bench for a solution to this problem.
One player who has exceeded expectations is shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr who is absolutely shining in his second season with the Hawks. When comparing Hardaway and Bazemore’s stats there is truly no argument that can be made in the defense of Kent Bazemore. Hardaway’s averages of 13.6 PPG, 2.1APG, and 2.6RPG at first glance may not seem to much better than Bazemore’s 11.0 PPG, 2.5APG, 3.1RPG. That is until you dig deeper into the stats and realize that Bazemore is shooting a woeful 40.2% from the field collectively. Now I doubt anyone is guilty of expecting Bazemore to possess the marvelous shooting of Stephen Curry but a shooting percentage that low is pitiful for a starting guard in the NBA. Meanwhile Hardaway boast a career high 45.2% field goal percentage. Efficiency is absolutely crucial for NBA teams now that the playoffs are creeping up and keeping Bazemore in the starting lineup will do Atlanta no favors in that aspect. To make matters worse Atlanta is in dire need of better shooting as they rank 26 out of 30 teams in shooting efficiency. Adding Hardaway to the starting lineup would definitely boost this aspect of the team. His lights out shooting would create better shot opportunities for his teammates because he attracts extra attention from opposing defenses. It seems as if this decision is almost too easy to make.
All the signs indicate Hardaway should be starting yet the chances of this actually happening are very slim simply because if a change was going to be made it would have been made by this point in the season. Although it may be a pipe dream, Hawks fans should still keep their fingers crossed as anything is possible especially in the NBA. Now this may be hard for Hawks management to hear but right now but Tim Hardaway Jr is hands down a better basketball player than Kent Bazemore and it’s not too hard to see. It’s time the organization does right by their fans and not their wallet for once.