Welcome to Lakers Linkedin, our new free agency preview series (inspired by our friends over at Liberty Ballers' own "Sixers Tinder") where we look at the "resumes" of various free agents, and determine whether or not we think the Lakers' should hire them. Today, we continue with the one the Lakers let get away: Kent Bazemore.
Kent Bazemore's Resume:
-Went from undrafted rookie to valuable contributor on a playoff team in the span of 4 seasons
-Played more minutes per game every season (4.4, 13.6. 17.7, 27.8)
-Can be easily nicknamed "BAEzemore" or "Bazed God" on Twitter for when he has big games
-Was the first player the author traded for in MyGM mode on NBA2K
-Can play the Shooting Guard and Small Forward position
-Fresh legs: Total career minutes played (4,585) similar to a second year player such as Jordan Clarkson (4,028)
Kent Bazemore is a versatile wing player whose role has steadily increased from being an undrafted rookie to a starter on a 48-win Atlanta Hawks team last season. While Bazemore is capable of playing both the SG and SF positions, the majority of his minutes last season came at SG where he was also the most effective. He's a high-energy player who has the capability of being a very good defender, but has struggled guarding bigger players (most notably LeBron James in this year's playoffs).
To continue his progression as an NBA player, Bazemore needs to improve his shooting (44 percent from the field, 35.7 percent on threes) but has shown enough growth year over year to be encouraged. While evaluating Bazemore, it is important to note that while he's been in the league for 4 seasons, he has effectively played the minutes of a second-year player, leaving much more room for growth. For comparison, Andrew Wiggins has played 5,814 total minutes to Kent Bazemore's 4,585.
In terms of fit, with Jordan Clarkson's willingness to come off the bench and the likelihood that the Lakers draft Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Kent Bazemore can be an excellent fit. Depending on situation and matchup, Bazemore can also slide over to the three so he can play with D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson.
His defensive length can be a great fit next to somebody with long arms in Ingram, as well as allowing Luke Walton to employ the switching style defense that he will likely try to bring over from the Warriors. Lastly, a player that is as professional, hard-working and well-liked in the locker room as Kent Bazemore will fit the kind of culture Luke Walton will be trying to establish and can prove to be an example for the other young players in the locker room.
Where Kent Bazemore's fit may be an issue is investing resources in a player that should be playing the shooting guard position will place a lot of pressure on the rookie Brandon Ingram to play big minutes early. Kent Bazemore can mitigate this by bulking up and building up his strength to possibly play more minutes at the three and guard bigger players.
Should the Lakers hire Kent Bazemore? Absolutely, if for no other reason than it would be a karmic correction for letting him go in the first place. He's a player that can grow with the team, contribute to building a new culture, and solidify the Lakers backcourt for years to come.
At this stage in the Lakers' rebuild they can afford to acquire talent that may not fit perfectly with the roster, but I believe this fit is good enough to justify the signing regardless. I would be comfortable with signing Bazemore to a long-term deal as well. Even with the increased cap this off-season, any player with a deal that is locked in will carry value as the cap balloons again next year.