Hakuna Matata — what a wonderful phrase, and one that may just describe the current mindset of Brooklyn Nets wing DeAndre’ Bembry. Eight games into his run with the team, Bembry has been more efficient on the hardwood than ever before. According to teammate Paul Millsap, there’s a simple explanation for that, as well as the overall growth he’s shown since entering the league.
“He’s just not giving a s***,” Millsap said, via the New York Daily News. “He’s playing his game. He’s not worried about anything. He’s out there playing. He’s out there competing, and his skills and his talent is showing up.”
That wasn’t always the case.
Back when Millsap was Bembry’s veteran during his fledgling days with the Atlanta Hawks, minutes were scarce for the Saint Joe’s product and his adjustment to the NBA game was a rough one. Going beyond the typical rookie struggles, though, he was also dealing with the death of his brother, who was shot and killed just one week before the Hawks drafted him in 2016.
Now, though, he’s found his niche and he’s broken free of the mental chains that affected him in the past.
The Mental Game
“I was overthinking everything,” Bembry told the Daily News of his early struggles. “My mind was all over the place.” Fast-forward to 2021 and the 27-year-old is in total agreement with Millsap’s assessment of his evolution as a player.
“It’s funny [Millsap] would say I don’t give a s***,” Bembry said. “He’s right. I don’t.”
That mindset has clearly paid off for Bembry. Over the years, he’s developed a reputation as a low-maintenance player who brings energy to both sides of the court, defends multiple positions and can finish with the best of them in transition. And he has been as advertised in Brooklyn.
As noted by the Daily News, opposing players were shooting just 23.3% when Bembry was the closest defender versus their average of 40.9% through seven games.
He’s doing some impressive things offensively, as well. Bembry hadn’t shown much potential as a deep threat since the ’17-18 campaign when he knocked down 36.7% of his triples. It’s an extremely small sample size, but he’s at 50% from behind the arc so far this season.
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Nash on Bembry
Brooklyn came out a little bit flat during an October 31 bout with the Detroit Pistons. However, Bembry keyed a second-quarter run that put the game firmly into the Nets’ hands. In 24 minutes of play on the night, he put up 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and added seven rebounds and two steals.
After the game, Nets coach Steve Nash spoke glowingly of Bembry and everything that he’s brought to the table.
“Even though he’s not profiled as an offensive player, he brings things to the offensive end with his quickness, athleticism, the pace of play, the willingness to sacrifice with cuts and screens,” Nash said. “And then, we’ve seen a flair for finishing as well. Just proud of him and that energy he brings to the game, the competitive nature. He gets his hand on a lot of balls out there that make it difficult to play against him, and he was fantastic.”