The Atlanta Hawks gave up quite a lot of assets in order to acquire the rights for the No. 4 overall pick and in turn, select highly-touted Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter. It was actually a pretty complicated series of events that led to the Hawks getting their hands on the pick, but eventually they landed their man.
In return, the Hawks acquired the No. 57 pick, Solomon Hill’s expiring deal, and the aforementioned No. 4 pick from the New Orleans Pelicans. In turn, the Pelicans actually acquired this pick from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Anthony Davis deal, as it was actually L.A. who won this pick in the draft lottery last month.
In summary, the Hawks proved that they were heavily invested in Hunter, as the team’s front office pretty much did everything they could to secure the rights to draft him. The question now is, will he be worth all the trouble? The short answer, we believe, is yes.
Below are three reasons why we believe Hunter has the potential to pay dividends for Atlanta as early as his rookie year.
3. Trae’s Type of Man
Rookie sensation point guard Trae Young has become the team’s cornerstone superstar for the future.
Naturally, the Hawks front office will be building around their highly-promising youngster, and it seems that Hunter is a perfect fit alongside Young.
The most important thing to note here is that Hunter is not a ball-dominant guy. This is exactly the type of player you would want to pair up with a playmaker like Young who likes to have the ball in his hands.
Hunter has proven to be a proficient catch-and-shoot type of guy, so he should be able to benefit from Young’s type of play immediately.
2. A 3-and-D Specialist
Many consider to Hunter to be one of the best defenders of this draft class. His on-ball defense is quite impressive, and with he Hawks in dire need of a wing defender, Hunter should fit in perfectly with the team.
In his sophomore year for Virginia last season, the 6-foot-7 wing put up 15.2 points (on 52.0 percent shooting), 1.2 three-pointers, 5.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, and just 1.4 turnovers in 32.5 minutes of action.
He likely won’t be able to score as much points in his rookie year next season, and it is highly unlikely that he will be able to maintain such an efficient shooting clip.
However, the trey’s and the defensive stats are definitely something that he could produce, as Hunter has the potential to be a standout 3-and-D specialist for the Hawks early on.
1. Below the Radar
Another aspect of Hunter’s game that makes him a good fit for Atlanta is the fact that he is not a flashy player. With Young and big man John Collins already in the picture, there’s definitely more than enough of that going around.
This will prove to be advantageous for both Hunter and the Hawks, as he should somewhat be able to fly under the radar in his rookie year, with the spotlight not completely fixed on him. This should give him the right amount of time and space to work on his game, and should ultimately speed up his development.
Moreover, at 21 years of age, Hunter already has some considerable experience under his belt. In this respect, he should have a lower learning curve as opposed to other younger players in his class. Simply put, he is more NBA-ready than most of his younger batchmates, so this fact should further aid in his quick development with the Hawks.
At the end of the day, though, despite Atlanta’s acquisition of a potentially franchise-altering stud, the team still won’t be contending next season. As a matter of fact, they will likely struggle to secure a spot in the playoffs.
However, what is clear is that the Hawks seem to be taking the right steps towards building a team for the future. The young core of Young, Collins, and now Hunter (as well as No. 10 overall pick Cam Reddish) definitely holds a lot of promise, and in a few years’ time — along with a little bit of luck, of course — Atlanta could force themselves into relevance in the Eastern Conference.
At this point, this is definitely something worth looking forward to for the Hawks faithful.