The trade that brought Steve Blake about 350 miles north was widely lauded as a great deal for the Golden State Warriors, because supposedly they didn’t give up anything. Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks were barely playing, and the Warriors needed a backup point guard. They tried Bazemore in that role at the beginning of the season, but he was unable to learn a new position on the fly.
Blake has provided about what one would expect since joining his new squad. On the other hand, Bazemore and Brooks have exceeded expectations.
Bazemore with Warriors: 6.1 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.3 spg, .371 FG%, .256 3p%
Bazemore with Lakers: 32.5 mpg, 15.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.7 spg, .465 FG%, .462 3p%
Brooks with Warriors: 2.1 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.1 spg, .385 FG%, .000 3p%
Brooks with Lakers: 23.2 mpg, 12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, .518 FG%, .889 3p%
The Warriors are 15 games ahead of L.A. in the standings, and the surprisingly effective play of both Bazemore and Brooks actually runs counter to the Lakers’ interests. Their plan is to accumulate more ping pong balls in the draft lottery, so they can pair a top draft prospect with Kobe Bryant next season. Instead, the Lakers have gone 3-3 since the trade, including a heartbreaking 107-106 win in Portland last night.
That doesn’t mean it’s all been smooth sailing for the former Warriors. On Feb. 26, Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times described how Pau Gasol was irked by the number of shots taken by Bazemore and Brooks in a loss to Indiana. But even in that story, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni had a lot of positive things to say about Bazemore.
“I think he’s so active on defense and he’s got a chance to be a really good player,” D’Antoni said. “He needs to be able to fit in a little bit better, and that will come with film sessions and talking to him in practice. I think he’s got a bright future.”
Clearly the sample sizes are small, and neither player took advantage of their opportunities in Golden State (Bazemore in particular). There was no way either player would get 20-30 minutes per game with the Warriors, not with Klay Thompson getting almost 37 minutes per game. Luckily for Bazemore, he kept his conditioning up in practice prior to the trade. Being one of the most active cheerleaders from the bench may have helped, too.
“I don’t have a relaxed mode. I’ve got to go, go, go,” he said. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Man you’ve got to slow down a little bit,’ but I want to play it that way so I’ve got to get into that type of shape.”
“It’s just showing that the work I put in prior to this moment is definitely paying off.”