De'Andre Hunter‘s growth in his second season and his two-way play is one of the key reasons Hawks optimists think this team can take a step forward off its impressive playoff run. He can be an X-factor for this team.
But Hunter will be slowed at the start of the season, GM Travis Schlenk told reporters last Friday. From Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
De’Andre Hunter, who struggled with knee issues last year, won’t be a full participant and will be eased back in. He’s been playing 1-on-1, and the Hawks expect him to be 100% ready by the season’s start. Hunter had an MRI taken before the first game of the Hawks’ playoff series with Philadelphia, which revealed a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, and had surgery in June.
After what can only be described as a dreadful rookie season, Hunter looked much better in the 23 games he was healthy enough to play in last season in Atlanta. He averaged 15 points a game with a 60.3 true shooting percentage, plus he is a quality wing defender.
If Hunter can make another leap in his third season, he can fill a critical role for the Hawks as they look to show last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals was no fluke. Something that will be tough to do in a deeper and more dangerous East this season.