One of the age-old ways to reinforce a roster for pennies on the dollar is to take a chance on a former top prospect who needs a change of scenery, and Toronto Raptors decided to do just that prior to the 2020-21 season by adding former Atlanta Hawks forward DeAndre’ Bembry on a cheap contract.
The former No. 21 overall pick never quite found his footing in Atlanta, as he didn’t develop the outside game needed to become a foundational piece alongside Trae Young and was sent packing after a four-year stint. Toronto took a chance on him, and he appeared to show enough to stick around.
Bembry averaged just 5.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, but he made 51% of his shots from the field, which is the highest mark of his career. While the Raptors were looking for any sort of bench consistency, the fact that Bembry was able to carve out a role for himself in the second unit is a testament to his quality.
While the second year of the contract he signed is non-guaranteed, bringing Bembry back should be a no-brainer. Given how he fits in with this team and the cheap cost of retaining him, Bembry should be in Raptors red and black next year.
DeAndre’ Bembry must return to the Toronto Raptors for the 2021-22 season.
Bembry’s best trait when coming out of college at Saint Joseph’s was his ability to throw down and get to the basket when he has a head of steam. While he has been able to bring that over from Atlanta, Bembry’s true value lies in what he has been able to do on the defensive end of things.
Cleaning the Glass (subscription required) shows that the Raptors allow 2.2 points fewer per 100 possession when Bembry is on the floor. While the bulk of his minutes have come at shooting guard or small forward, he has a handful of minutes as a primary ball-handler and even as a power forward in an ultra-small arrangement.
Being able to play four of the five positions with some degree of aplomb is commendable.
Ultimately, Bembry earning a greater role with Toronto will be dependant on him getting a better 3-point shot, as he attempted just one 3-ball per game and made just 26% of his attempts from beyond the arc. We know he can attack the basket and finish, but adding this to his repertoire could be the secret ingredient that makes it all click.
Bembry is never going to be the gaudy statistical presence that some may have envisioned for him. Instead, he can use his versatility and ability to get to the rack in pursuit of giving Toronto a bench option that can be deployed in both big and small lineups. For under $2 million, that’s a pretty economical deal.