The Toronto Raptors have a tendency to make under-the-radar signings that pay dividends in the long run and DeAndre' Bembry stands to become the latest example.
MORE: Fast facts on Bembry
According to reports from ESPN's Adam Schefter and The Athletic's Blake Murphy, the 6-foot-5 wing is set to join the Raptors on a two-year deal worth the veteran's minimum, with the second year of the deal not guaranteed.
Welcome to the squad, @fearthefro95. #WeTheNorth- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 29, 2020
📰 » https://t.co/r8l8ZlZp0a pic.twitter.com/DqbPCc4UvP
It's a low-risk, high-reward signing as the Raptors get a player that they planned to work out ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft, where he was taken with the No. 21 overall pick, six spots ahead of Pascal Siakam.
Three of Bembry's four years in Atlanta were impacted negatively by circumstance and injury but the 2018-19 season saw him appear in all 82 games (15 starts), posting averages of 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 23.5 minutes per game.
This past season, Bembry appeared in 43 games for the Hawks before his season came to an early end due to injury. Overall, his season averages took a dip but early on in the season, he put forth one of the best performances of his young career, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals in a nine-point loss to the Miami Heat.
MORE: What Alex Len brings to the Raptors
It was a quintessential DeAndre' Bembry performance. Not because of the numbers - it would be unwise to expect a near triple-double from most anyone on a nightly basis, let alone a player on a veteran's minimum deal - but in doing a little bit of everything, Bembry showed exactly what he brings to a team.
Grit. Hustle. Toughness. Athleticism.
For a team like the Raptors, who led the league in transition scoring last season, an athlete like Bembry can be a very valuable addition. Looking back to his performance against Miami, he first put his athleticism on display towards the end of the first quarter, getting out in the open floor to finish way above the rim, beating the clock in the process.
DeAndre' freaking Bembry 🤯🤯🤯 pic.twitter.com/yCZg0sp54r- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) October 31, 2019
He'd get back above the rim later on in the game, too, attacking the baseline for a finish off of a kick out from Jabari Parker.
DeAndre' Bembry sees the opening baseline! 💥- NBA (@NBA) November 1, 2019
4th quarter NEXT on @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/6zM1tS5UGf
Now, imagine it's Bembry spacing out in the corner off of a pick-and-roll with either Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet as the ballhandler, and picture the possibilities of him having even more opportunities to attack in the half-court. It's something we've seen from OG Anunoby and Norman Powell from the exact same position and with his athleticism, Bembry can execute in a similar manner.
His finishes aren't just limited to dunks, either. See Bembry put his toughness and dexterity on full display as he contorts his body to score despite a tough contest from Jimmy Butler.
That's how you finish, Dre 🙌 pic.twitter.com/BmCtEn6A4e- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) November 1, 2019
Rewatch the play and you'll see that it's Bembry's hustle that makes it all possible.
In a scramble back on defence in transition, Bembry initially causes chaos by playing the passing lane on a Bam Adebayo outlet to Kendrick Nunn. Though Bembry fishes and misses out on a potential deflection or steal, he has thrown Nunn off-balance, buying time to recover, which, ultimately results in the forced turnover and transition bucket.
This level of hustle is on-brand for Bembry. Similar to the manner in which fans fell in love with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson last season, they will develop an affinity for Bembry and his tendency to make positive hustle plays like the one above, and one that came earlier in the same game.
Bembry taps it to himself and tosses the lob to Damian Jones! #TrueToAtlanta- NBA (@NBA) November 1, 2019
📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/5R1N6IC44g
How large of a role Bembry stands to come into remains to be seen, as he is one of nine wing players under contract, including two-way players Jalen Harris and Paul Watson. As deep as Toronto is on the wing, no two players truly bring the same skill set, meaning Bembry can carve a role with his defence, hustle and athleticism in a manner similar to RHJ, just from the guard position.
It works as a cultural fit, too, as Bembry's work ethic and persistence align with the approach that this Raptors team brings to each and every game.
While Bembry's role will fluctuate throughout the upcoming season, he will most definitely make the most of the minutes he earns.
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