What a year for DeAndre’ Bembry. After cementing his role with the Atlanta Hawks in the lineup as a “hold the fort/change the pace ” type of player off the bench, Bembry found himself in much of the same situation with the Toronto Raptors. Featuring a bevy of up and down performances, sporadic minutes and out-right DNP-CDs, along with time spent in and out of Nick Nurse’s doghouse, Bembry eventually settled in as a hybrid point guard/Swiss-army wing defender for the Raptors.
While the statistical analysis doesn’t quite portray an effective first year for Bembry with the Raptors, DeAndre’ certainly did his best to plug the many holes in Toronto’s leaky ship throughout the season. With that, let’s dig into what went right, what went wrong, and whether Bembry has a place in Toronto’s lineup next year.
When writing about DeAndre’ Bembry at the beginning of the season, I wondered if his defensive metrics didn’t quite match up with the eye test because he was stuck playing with lousy defenders in Atlanta. Well, as it turns out, Bembry is the player he is, regardless of who he is playing with. Who is that person, though? Is he this person who ended up closing the season with nine straight games played — and heavy minutes at that — by the final three games?
Or is he the player that was stapled to the bench for the first 15 games of the season due to a propensity to gamble on the defensive end while contributing next to nothing on the offensive end?
In the end, there is no denying that Bembry plays his heart out on the defensive side of the ball. His propensity to fight over screens, dart into passing lanes for steals and generally be a bother to opposing players clearly showcases that. What remains to be seen is whether that will be enough to keep Bembry on the roster considering the next portion of this review.
What’s that? A Raptors bench player who gives it his all on defense and contributes very little on the offensive side of the ball? Your 2020-21 Toronto Raptors bench, everybody!
For what it’s worth, there was not much in the way of expectations on the offensive end for Bembry when he signed with the Raptors. While he did shoot the best field goal and free throw percentages of his career at 51 and 68 percent (yikes), respectively, Bembry was not able to improve on his lowly career three-point percentage of 26 percent (double yikes). This has always been the issue with playing Bembry. While he showed he can operate as a play-maker and has that above-noted defensive utility, Bembry’s lack of shooting efficiency hurt the Raptors.
Still, having said that, Bembry did manage to have himself a steady handful of solid games, including one in which he set a new career-high in points.
With the Raptors having finished out one of the toughest seasons in NBA history, a legitimate question can be asked about most, if not all, of the Toronto bench squad — was this season for real? Would Bembry improve playing in front of the hometown crowd in Toronto? Could an offseason with Toronto’s lauded player development staff push Bembry in the right direction to produce even a slight uptick in his offensive game? At 26 years old with a non-guaranteed contract heading into next season, does a player like DeAndre’ Bembry even have a spot on the Raptors’ roster? His offensive growth over the summer as well as Toronto’s draft fortunes could very well be the determining factor.
Now that we’ve got the nuts and bolts of Bembry’s season out of the way, it’s time to part with a mere glimpse into DeAndre’s sartorial world. While his on-court contributions on the defensive end are the real reason Bembry was brought in, it’s always an added bonus when new additions can bring absolute heat off the court.