What DeAndre’ Bembry brings to the table for the Milwaukee Bucks

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08 (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08 (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

It’s official: DeAndre’ Bembry is signing with the Milwaukee Bucks. First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the defending champions swiftly locked in their signing with the 6-foot-5 forward after it was first reported that they were among the frontrunners closing in on a deal.

One tired storyline among the Bucks fiefdom throughout the season thus far was who would play the role that P.J. Tucker did for the championship Bucks. That player was supposed to be Semi Ojeleye at one point, but that ship has long sailed. Wesley Matthews showed promise as well in his first few weeks with the Bucks, but it’s become increasingly evident that his age is catching up to him.

With the acquisition of Bembry guaranteed, now is as good a time as any to look into his potential impact for the defending champions. Could he be the next defensive dog to allow the Bucks to switch their way to playoff success? Here’s what the stats say about what kind of player he can be for the Bucks.

Bembry is a smart, physical defender who gives the Milwaukee Bucks versatility on that end of the floor

It would be malpractice to pen an article on Bembry’s abilities without starting with his most important attribute: he can defend most scorers at an extremely competent level.

If he’s to play the same role PJ Tucker did, Bembry is as good a replacement as any: he’s a hustler on defense and can guard multiple positions thanks to his 6-foot-5 frame and 210 pounds. He’s not as tectonic as Tucker, but it’s clear he can move his feet and play smart, fundamental defense without ever letting up.

According to his matchup data on NBA.com/stats, Bembry in 48 games with the Brooklyn Nets has held opposing guards to 39.2 percent field goal shooting as the closest defender. His added girth for his position is a clear advantage too, as opposing forwards have only shot 44.8 percent on field-goal attempts against Bembry.

His individual matchups are just as impressive. With Bembry as the closest defender, scorers like DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Trae Young went 2-for-7, 3-for-8, and 2-for-9 in their minutes matched up against him. Guards like Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook made just one of at least five shot attempts against Bembry in their matchups.

Cleaning the Glass paints an excellent picture of his switchability. In his 895 minutes for the Brooklyn Nets, Bembry has spent 19 percent of his time at shooting guard, 71 percent at small forward, and 10 percent at power forward. It’s clear his profile as a defender affords the Bucks a lot of versatility and switchability.

If his hustle and fundamentals didn’t already make him a plus defender for the defending champs, he also has active hands with which to pilfer easy steals. Per CtG, Bembry’s 1.3 block percentage and 2.2 steals percentage (a number good for top 20 in the association) is good for the 94th percentile and above in his position. Bembry also defends the pick-and-roll ball-handler for 42.3 percent of his defensive possessions.

In Bembry’s last full season with Toronto, the Raptors logged a defensive rating of 110.42 points given up per 100 possessions with Bembry on the floor versus just 114.24 with him on the bench.

DeAndre’ Bembry’s floor-spacing ability has improved through the years, which will help the Milwaukee Bucks

Bembry wasn’t brought to the team to be a scorer, but any offensive output they can get out of him will be a significant boost to the league’s 28th-ranked bench in points per game. He averaged 5.8 points and 3.2 rebounds, on 57 percent field goal efficiency and an extremely respectable 41.7 percent shooting clip from distance on nearly 20 minutes a game for Brooklyn.

There’s reason to temper expectations, however. Though Bembry has shot 42 percent from deep with Brooklyn this season, his 28 percent shooting clip from deep for his career leaves room for worry. His overall volume is admittedly on the lower side with just 36 attempts so far this season, but he can still knock down a corner trey from time to time. He’s shot 6-of-11 or 54.5 percent from both the left and right corner so far according to his shooting splits.

Bembry brings a bit of playmaking as evidenced by his brief spurts handling the ball at point guard in each of his stops in the association. He’s spent 4.2 percent of his offensive possessions as the pick-and-roll ball-handler but is an abysmal 2nd percentile at it. He’s not particularly skilled enough to warrant time as the primary ball handler, but he can also find the open man with ease when the need arises — a quality that can only mean good things for a Milwaukee Bucks team still without the services of its secondary point guard in George Hill.

He’s also proven himself to be an opportunistic cutter. He seems to have a good feel for how to make himself a threat off the ball with all the attention centered on his superstar teammates. Per NBA.com/stats, Bembry is in the 91st percentile in his position on cuts — a play that makes up 17.6 percent of his offensive diet — with 1.52 points per possession on those opportunities.

Bembry’s shot selection is also extremely compatible with the Bucks’ offensive profile. PBP Stats says 82.6 percent of all his attempts are either 3-pointers or shots at the rim. Among players who have played at least 900 minutes total, that’s a top-40 mark in the association.

Because of his cutting and shooting ability, Bembry is almost by default an excellent fit next to stars on the offensive end as we’ve seen in his history of teammates across the league. When all the shots on offense are gobbled up by teammates like Antetokounmpo and Middleton, a competent but low-usage type of scorer like Bembry is exactly the kind of teammate you’d want to trot out alongside your star players.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer will be able to maximize Bembry’s talents

As it stands, head coach Mike Budenholzer already has an extensive history of turning energetic glue guy-type players into competent do-everything Swiss Army knives. Just look at players like Pat Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who have all (to varying degrees, of course) been able to develop into decent-to-quality role players simply by playing hard and doing the little things that contribute to winning basketball.

Couple that with the fact that Budenholzer was Bembry’s first head coach in the league, and you have a recipe for immediate chemistry and hopefully, success. Although he is by no means a flashy two-way star, Bembry is already looking like a valuable role player. He’s demonstrated his ability to be a star within his role, making him exactly the type of player a contender like the Bucks would want.

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Welcome to Milwaukee, DeAndre’!