Our offseason grades series continues with a look at perhaps the most important move the Atlanta Hawks made this offseason: Drafting De’Andre Hunter at #4 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The buildup to the 2019 NBA Draft was fairly intense for Atlanta Hawks fans, as myriad players were on the team’s radar heading into June’s fateful draft night. When the night began, the Hawks were sitting pretty with two top ten picks (#8 and #10), and by the time the night was over, that fact remained unchanged.
Of course, the scenario surrounding those top 10 picks was vastly different. The Hawks opted to package a surplus of draft picks and send them to New Orleans in order to move up to #4 overall and select De’Andre Hunter out of Virginia.
Hunter was definitely on our 2019 NBA Draft radar here at SDS, and his national profile rose considerably from his freshman to sophomore season due to a variety of factors. In his freshman year as a Virginia Cavalier, he was forced to sit out the NCAA Tournament due to a wrist injury. Without his anchoring defense, mistake-free play and overall confidence, the Cavs became the first-ever #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed during March Madness.
The following season, Virginia pulled off one of the greatest comeback stories in basketball history by becoming national champions – on the back of a career-high night from Hunter:
Just what will De’Andre bring to the Atlanta Hawks? First and foremost, Hunter is a defensive wizard, which is an area of sore need for the team what with lesser defensive talents such as Trae Young and John Collins on the roster.
Though Hunter might be a tad slow to stick with the quickest guards in the NBA, his size, length and strength should allow to switch across three positions at least – possibly expanding into four-position switchability in some alignments.
Beyond that, Hunter showed some ability off the dribble attacking closeouts while also serving as a knockdown shooter in his college career.
Though the price paid to obtain Hunter was steep, he projects to be a tremendous fit alongside the Hawks’ young core of Young, Collins, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish and next season will be an exercise in watching Hunter grow and develop under Coach Lloyd Pierce’s tutelage.
Stay tuned for more offseason grades on Soaring Down South, your home for Atlanta Hawks news and updates.