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DeAndre’ Bembry rises to occasion as Sean Marks’ latest find

Phoenix Suns v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

There times in the preseason where Nets fans suggested that if the Nets were in a roster crunch, DeAndre’ Bembry could be cut. Of all Sean Marks off-season signings, he was the only one whose contract wasn’t fully guaranteed.

There’ll be no more of that!

Instead, the 6’5” wingman from St Patrick in Elizabeth N.J. and St. Joseph University in Philly, has become a fan favorite, defense and energy his calling card. Bembry’s contract is still only partially guaranteed. He got $750,000 on signing which will increase to $1.25 million on December 15. He won’t be fully guaranteed until the league-wide date of January 7.

“He gives us some speed and athleticism; he gives us a defender out there who can guard No. 1 options on the other team, and he also is a cutter offensively for us. So he’s been great,” Steve Nash said after Bembry’s best game Saturday. “We’ve been working with him to really understand his role, and I think he’s been fantastic with his willingness to compete and to grow as a player. So, really proud of his effort and he’s getting better.”

Bembry has played in all but one of the Nets games, starting four as injury and illness have depleted Brooklyn’s roster. He’s averaging 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds with shooting splits of 56/41/53. In his four starts, Bembry is averaging 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds with shooting splits of 61/00/33.

The 27-year-old is a veteran of four seasons, playing with the Hawks and Raptors before signing with the Nets. He gives Nash two wings he can insert when he needs defense, the other of course being Bruce Brown, last year’s “find.”

“It’s their skill set, the way their mind works, their mentality,” Nash said before the Suns game, adding they can also get buckets if needed.

“Those two guys are very good cutters, very good guys at finding pockets of space and not deterring from our offensive efficiency. Even without being elite or historically great shooters, they’re able to impact the offense in a positive way, which allows us to have them on the floor for defense.

“Both are similar in that respect, that they’re intelligent and hungry to make an impact without necessarily hunting shots.”

On Saturday, Bembry started and played 35 minutes, scoring 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting while grabbing nine boards. Brown, coming off a hamstring injury that cost him two games, was limited to four minutes.

“Obviously, it’s different coming off the bench,” Bembry said. “Coming off the bench, sometimes you try to change the pace if we’re down. But starting, everyone’s still just waking up and trying to get their blood flowing, so it’s hard to keep that pace for everybody. But me myself, that’s my game. I’m just coming in and being aggressive defensively, trying to disrupt plays.”

Looking down the road, the Nets will probably have to dip into cap space or the taxpayers mid-level exception to keep Bembry and/or Brown ... or find another gem.