Atlanta Hawks 2018-19 Season In Review: Kevin Huerter

Kevin Huerter #3 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin Huerter #3 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks Kevin Huerter
Kevin Huerter #1 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Initial Expectations

Kevin Huerter entered the NBA Draft as one of the bigger question marks in all the draft. One of the best combine performances in recent memory had his stock rising while a broken hand and the fact he was a sophomore, and thus a year older than other top tier prospects, kept him from ballooning too high.

Most mocks had him in the mid-to-late 20’s and some even had the Maryland guard slipping to the second round. The Atlanta Hawks used their 19th overall selection on Huerter.

After not playing a single minute in Summer League due to that hand injury, he was slowly introduced to the rotation, playing just 4 minutes in his NBA debut, and a cool 13 in game 2 in which he scored his first points.

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Upon being drafted, The Atlanta Hawks trio of rookies instantly got compared to the Golden State Warriors’ big three. Trae Young was the free-shooting and quick thinking point, ala Steph Curry, Omari Spellman was a stretch 4/5 who had potential to be a Draymond-esque defender and rebounder, and Kevin Huerter was the sharpshooter who could pull a three off the dribble or squared up, shades of Klay Thompson.

These comparisons were mostly there because Atlanta’s new GM was fresh off a front office job for the champions, but held some weight as singular comparisons.

Huerter did his best to live up to that comparison, especially in his shooting. He shot just a few ticks less than Thompson in his rookie season, and both shot around 4 a game. It remains to be see if Huerter is really the next Klay, but if he can improve his sometimes lackadaisical defense, the blueprint is there.

Our own (bold) predictions for Huerter noted that it would be a big win for him to make the All-rookie second team, make 140 threes, and end the season as the starting 2-guard.

Not to pat ourselves on the back here, but all three of those could come to pass.

Huerter made 136 threes as a rookie, very close to our predicted 140. He made 1.8 a game, so if he played a full 82 games, he would had made a nice 147. Deep shooting was his big thing to look for coming out of college, and he didn’t disappoint there.

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As for getting the starting gig, that really didn’t take long. He got his first NBA start on November 6th, and on November 25th he got the starting job for good, not coming off the bench for the rest of the season. Granted he was basically thrust into the starting 5 due to injuries to both Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince, but to his credit, played well enough to keep it. In his first 9 starts he averaged over 10 points per game while shooting an insane 51% from three.

The All-Rookie team selection seemed to be a lock midway through the season, but his production hit a small bump in the final month and a half, while other rookies finished strong.

Guys like Collin Sexton, Rodions Kurucs, Landry Shamet and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all made good runs to the end the year, and the latter three might be a small bump for being on playoff teams.

If the whole season is taken into account however, Huerter should be a favorite to nab a spot on the 2nd team, just like John Collins did last season.

Overall I would say Huerter surpassed expectations. Him being a starter was a bold prediction and he ended up starting 59 games, tied for 2nd-most on the Hawks, and was a reliable, good-to-great scorer, all at the age of 20.