Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore isn't surprised that the Sixers are a team on the rise, entering Wednesday night's matchup with the Hawks on a two-win streak.
"I said last year that Philly was a team that was going to compete with everyone," Bazemore said Wednesday morning.
And Bazemore knows a thing or two about going from the bottom toward the top.
Before his 2012-13 rookie season with the Golden State Warriors, Bazemore was ranked 499th on ESPN's top 500 NBA players after going undrafted. The lengthy guard later had the number stitched into his shoes as a reminder of where he began and a launching pad for what was to come.
Multiple D-League assignments, five years, and two teams later, Bazemore is now a starter on a rebuilding Hawks team that has taken him to the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.
His path has been much like the one of the Sixers' Robert Covington. Bazemore recognizes that his NBA journey has differed from that of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, players who have had the expectations of saving their team thrust on them from Day 1.
"I respect them for how they're handling it," Bazemore said after the Hawks' shoot-around at the Wells Fargo Center.
Atlanta has struggled in the early going this season. After winning their opening game in Dallas, the Hawks have lost six straight.
Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer knows his team is facing a difficult matchup against the unique skill sets of a Sixers team seeking its first home victory.
"Embiid's so big and can post up and play near the basket, but he shoots threes. Simmons as a ball handler with his athleticism and length, they're a little bit unique. So hopefully we'll do things that are appropriate for tonight and see how we match up," Budenholzer said.