There is something to be said for familiarity. That’s why Kent Bazemore, this year’s unknown to emerge from Summer League, chose to sign with the Warriors. He made it official on Thursday.
“Being undrafted,” Bazemore said, “you have to prove yourself anyway. I learned a lot here. I didn’t want to go into training camp having to learn a whole new system.”
Bazemore didn’t pursue an opportunity with the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose Orlando Summer League squad he was on. He also passed up a one-year, non-guaranteed deal from Atlanta, which is much closer to his hometown and family. He’d already grown a level comfort with the Warriors. Joining Golden State was a no-brainer.
He worked out twice with the Warriors, each time he said he was impressed with how they operated.
“They were actually helping me during the workouts, giving me pointers,” Bazemore said. “When you go to other workouts, they just want to see what you can do. They aren’t as hands on.”
He also had a connection to the franchise in Charles Jenkins, who Bazemore faced in the CAA Conference. The two have kept in touch and Jenkins has been helping Bazemore along.
During his summer league experience, Bazemore bonded with the Warriors’ youngsters and said he learning a lot from the coaches. He said he and rookie Festus Ezeli developed into an inside out defensive connection. Those two, along with with Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, set the tone of grit and defense that led the summer league team to go 5-0.
Bazemore said he looks forward to chasing Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson around in training camp. He said he hangs his hat on defensive — giving effort and being active. During his junior year, when he realized the NBA was a possibility, he started paying closer attention to the likes of Thabo Sefalosha and Avery Bradley, energy guys who live on the defensive end.
“Once I get acclimated to the speed of playing in the NBA, I’ll be able to hold my own on defense,” Bazemore said. “Put a few pounds on, add some strength.”
Bazemore said he knows there is one thing he can do well, and you almost have to believe him after he got seven blocks in a summer league game.
“I love running down blocks, chasing someone from behind. You watch LeBron do it and he’s one of the best at it. I consider myself a close second,” he said with a laugh.