Atlanta Hawks Preseason Notes: De’Andre Hunter Breakout Season?

Recapping the Atlanta Hawks’ first two preseason games.

The Atlanta Hawks finally got back to real basketball last week, taking on the Magic in two exhibition contests. Although the games were still preseason games at heart, the two teams played somewhat surprisingly intense basketball.

Outside a fairly ugly fourth quarter in the first game, the contests could have passed as regular-season contests to the untrained eye.

The surprisingly competitive matchups gave us a great first look at the Hawks’ revamped roster. Here are some notes for their first two games before they wrap up their preseason in Memphis starting on Thursday.

Sophomore Breakout?

De’Andre Hunter was the standout of games one and two. It seemed the coaching staff was eager to get him touches and the forward was more than happy to produce with those looks. He took 17 shots in the two games combined, looking much more aggressive than he did in his rookie season.

Put that improved offense together with his already impressive defense and the Atlanta Hawks have a breakout candidate on their hands.

He, Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter (and perhaps Solomon Hill) are competing for the final spot in the starting five and going off these first two contests, Hunter looks to be in the driver’s seat. That’s not to say Reddish or Huerter have been bad (quite the opposite actually) but just that Hunter’s been that impressive. It’s his job to lose.

Finally, some good center play

I’ve been geeked to see Clint Capela in a Hawks uniform ever since they acquired him back in February. Ten months later, he did not disappoint.

In the first game, the center totaled 14 rebounds and eight points on an efficient 4-of-6 shooting. How many games did a Hawks player grab 14 or more boards in a game last season? Just three. Capela did it in his first game.

The former Rocket is a much-needed addition to a team that had arguably the worst center rotation in the league last season. Not to mention his dazzling lob-threat ability that he flashed a couple of times.

Skylar Mays: Fun

I can already see myself dying on the Skylar Mays hill. The second-rounder is just a flat-out baller and I hope he gets enough minutes to show he’s worth a shot on the full-time roster (he’s currently two-way).

He played just 5:30 in the first game and while he failed to make a field goal, managed to make an impact on his game. I’d love to see him get third-unit minutes instead of Brandon Goodwin, who struggled yet again.

Rusty Trae:

I’m far from worried about Trae Young‘s somewhat lackluster play in these two matchups. Not only was it apparent that he wasn’t going 100 percent, his high-skill, but high-reward play was also certain to be rusty after a long offseason.

He was a bit over-eager to share the ball with his new teammates, which led to a combined 14 turnovers in the game.s I wouldn’t be surprised if Young continues this slow start in the regular season but expect to see him back to his All-Star level by January.

The Atlanta Hawks play two more preseason contests, both against the Grizzlies. The first comes on Thursday, Dec. 17.