In a solid piece by Howard Megdal of Slam Magazine, the scribe examines the rise of Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore from an undrafted free agent to the player he is today. Discussing the success the team has enjoyed with Bazemore, coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said, “We knew when we signed Kent, and were able to add him to our program, that he was an elite defender, and an elite competitor. So I think defense and that competitiveness was there from day one. And we felt like he could grow and mature offensively. He’s been doing that. The first year was off the bench, the second year as a starter, and the third year, hopefully, he’ll continue to grow. He’s a great worker, he’s got a great heart. He’s the type of guy we want to work with.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Pacers forward Paul George will sit out tonight’s contest against Suns due to persistent soreness in his left ankle, Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star reports (Twitter links). George, who was unable to participate in the team’s practice today, is set to undergo an MRI on Saturday, Taylor adds. The 26-year-old is averaging 21.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 34.7 minutes per outing this season.
- Chris Mannix of The Vertical weighed in on how the offseason signing of Dwight Howard has made the Hawks a better team. The big man has Atlanta among the top five in the league in offensive rebounding after finishing the 2015/16 campaign dead last in that department, Mannix adds. A number of scouts around the NBA believe Howard is looking the best that he has since departing Orlando, Mannix notes. “He’s as active as I’ve seen him in years,” a scout told Mannix regarding Howard. “With him there, everyone is playing up and aggressive on the ball.”
- After starting the season on the inactive list, guard Jerian Grant is emerging as a vital piece in the Bulls‘ rotation, writes Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com. The player said his time on the sidelines motivated him to improve his game, Goodwill adds. “When you’re inactive you feel like you’re the last guy on the team,” said Grant. “Everybody else is out there suited up, so I wanted to prove to myself, to everybody out there that I’m not the last guy. I’m a guy that can contribute to this team.”