The Atlanta Hawks are in the middle of a youth renaissance. They are the 10th youngest team in the league even after bringing on Vince Carter for another year, who is old enough to be Trae Young’s father. Even though they lack NBA experience, the young Hawks are brimming with talent and look to take a big step forward in the 2019-20 season. With these high expectations comes plenty of pressure. Here’s a look at the three players on the Hawks that face the most pressure to produce and/or improve going into the season.
This one should be obvious. Before he was even drafted, Trae Young had been hyped as the next Stephen Curry. Comparisons to the Golden State Warriors star might be early, but Young showed the NBA that he is capable of hitting the deep three and dishing out eye-popping assists, both Curry trademarks.
Even after a terrible start to his season, Young finished the campaign averaging 19.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 3.7 boards per game. He shot 41.8 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three. Shooting below NBA average from distance will not cut it for Young or the Hawks.
Expect to see his three-point numbers rise dramatically, even while the degree of difficulty on his shots remains the same. As the current face of the Atlanta Hawks franchise, Young has got a ton of weight on his shoulders at only 20 years old.
Cam Reddish was projected to be a top-five pick before his freshman season at Duke. However, he was greatly overshadowed by the play of Blue Devil teammates Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett and dropped to number 10 in the 2019 draft where the Hawks selected him. Reddish is an NBA ready wing who has the talent to put up numbers for the Hawks immediately. In his only year at Duke, he averaged 13.5 points and 1.6 steals per game but shot only 33.3 percent from range.
Like Young, he should only improve off that number. Atlanta will expect him to space the floor for Young and John Collins, and consistently knock down the open trey. We’ll have to wait and see if Cam Reddish can actually reach the towering ceiling many pundits and scouts have given him.
Any time a player is selected in the top five of any draft, there is always pressure to prove their value, and fast. Any player selected in the top five is expected to make an immediate impact, and De’Andre Hunter falls in this category.
Hunter is coming off an NCAA championship with Virginia and a season in which he averaged 15.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists while shooting 52 percent from the floor. Hunter is expected to be a plus defender with some range, and will likely start for the Hawks in his rookie season.
With Trae Young still being a defensive liability, Hunter should help Atlanta shore up their perimeter defense, and whatever offense he brings will be an added bonus. No player wants to be called a bust, and Hunter will have to work hard to avoid the dreaded label.