Kent Bazemore is back. That tight, ineffective player you’ve seen is gone. You’ll see tonight, he says.
“I put the most pressure on myself. Thus far this season, I was just being to consumed with perfection,” Bazemore said after Wednesday’s shoot around. “Throughout my career, I have just let it happen. Early on this season is where I started to be somebody I wasnt and it showed on the floor. I’m back to myself. I’m ready to play. I’m ready to go.”
Bazemore could be in line for some meaningful minutes when the Warriors host the Memphis Grizzlies. Golden State will be without starting point guard Stephen Curry, who was ruled out with a mild concussion. Curry’s back-up, Toney Douglas, is still out with a stress reaction in his left tibia.
Andre Iguodala has been serving as the back-up point guard. Even if he assumes the point duties from the outside, it stands to reason one of the remaining guards will get some action other than garbage time. The truest point guard left on the roster is probably rookie Nemanja Nedovic. But Bazemore, a defensive-minded shooting guard who is transitioning to point guard, could get first crack.
Unless his last performance dropped him on the depth chart.
When Douglas was ruled out initially, Jackson turned to Bazemore to fill in. The second-year man out of Old Dominion didn’t look ready. He got his pocket picked by Detroit back-up guard Will Bynum and seemed to get rattled.
“I lost my killer instinct,” Bazemore acknowledged. “Will Bynum is a great defender. But when a guy is pressuring you like that you’ve got to make him pay … I was thinking too much. Taking small stuff way out of proportion. There are too many games in this league to let one play or a few plays dictate your whole season.”
But Bazemore said he’s relaxed. It’s been a process, but he feel like he’s gotten over the hurdle of tension.
It began with a four-hour, get-it-off-his-chest talk with his girlfriend. He also went to work on his game with assistant coach of player development Joe Boylan. He even started reading The Secret, an effort to rid his mind of the negative thoughts.
And for good measure, he watched a few of his summer league games. To remind himself of how good he can be when he just plays his game.
“Just got to believe it,” Bazemore said. “That’s one thing I’ve learned about this league. It’s all about swagger, confidence. So I’m back. I feel great.”