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1 Hawks player in danger of losing starting job in 2022-23 NBA training camp

Hawks, De'Andre Hunter

The Atlanta Hawks are heading into the 2022-23 NBA season with a strong group of players and a potentially dominant starting lineup. With training camp officially kicking off next week, teams are gearing up for the start of another NBA season. The Hawks appear set to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this upcoming season after a strong offseason of work.

Atlanta pulled off one of the biggest moves of the offseason by trading for San Antonio Spurs star guard Dejounte Murray. Adding Murray to a backcourt that already features Trae Young makes Atlanta an extremely dangerous team, which is good news for a Hawks team that failed to follow up on their successful 2021 postseason run last year.

For the most part, the Hawks starting lineup is set in stone heading into the season. But there is one player who could end up losing his starting job for the 2022-23 season given his inconsistencies throughout the start of his career. Let’s take a look at who that player is and see why his starting role on the Hawks could be in danger.

Hawks player in danger of losing starting job: De’Andre Hunter

The fourth overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, De’Andre Hunter hasn’t had the start to his career that he would have liked. He’s struggled with injuries and inconsistent play early on in his career, and it’s made it tough for the Hawks to fully rely on him as a result. Hunter showed his potential throughout the 2021-22 season, though, and ended up having a very strong series against the Miami Heat in the playoffs that Atlanta is hoping can be transferred over to the upcoming season.

For now, Hunter is penciled in as Atlanta’s starting small forward, which makes sense. Hunter is a solid secondary scorer behind Young, Murray, and John Collins, and he was at his best when opposing teams keyed in on Young last season. Hunter doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be successful every play, although he’s going to have to figure out how to be more consistent on both sides of the ball for Atlanta.

The Hawks have taken a risk in not handing Hunter the contract extension he’s been looking for this offseason, and you can make an argument it was the one move the team needed to make this offseason. Hunter has shown signs that he could be in store for a breakout season, and by not paying him and proceeding to start him, the Hawks are running the risk of watching Hunter’s price increase if he puts together a strong 2021-22 season.

There’s also a chance Hunter’s inconsistencies continue to plague him, and result in him getting sent to the bench this season. For the most part, when Hunter has played in his career, he has started. But with Murray onboard now, that has forced Bogdan Bogdanovic to the bench for the time being, but he could end up stealing Hunter’s starting role away from him before the season even starts.

Whereas Hunter has been wildly inconsistent to start his career, Bogdanovic has been a reliable player for the Hawks throughout his first two seasons with the team. His shooting took a step back last season, but he fits the Hawks lineup better as a pure floor spacer than Hunter does right now. Bogdanovic also plays better defense than Hunter, although playing him out of position at small forward could hurt his metrics there.

For now, the Hawks seem intent on giving Hunter a chance to prove he’s worth the money he’s been asking for this offseason. It’s clear that his upside is much greater than Bogdanovic’s, but there’s a decent chance he’s unable to realize that potential this season. If he is unable to do that, Bogdanovic will likely slide into the starting lineup for him.

While Hunter has shown potential to be a solid floor spacer alongside Young, he’s more comfortable driving to the hoop, which isn’t as organic a fit playing with Young, who relies heavily on his ability to do whatever he wants with the ball in his hands. Hunter showed improvements in his shooting last season, but will those numbers be able to hold up this season?

Overall, there are a lot of different question marks surrounding Hunter’s status with Atlanta right now. He clearly has bundles of potential, but the Hawks may be better off playing Bogdanovic over him at small forward this season. De’Andre Hunter will probably be given the first crack in the Hawks starting lineup, but there’s a chance that if he struggles during training camp, Bogdanovic will emerge and take over his starting role for Atlanta right from the get go.