Atlanta Hawks: Kevin Huerter proved he’s more than just a shooter

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

Atlanta Hawks forward Kevin Huerter didn’t have the end to the postseason he would have liked, no one on the team did. But the third-year man out of the University of Maryland answered a lot of questions and even surprised old coaches in the postseason for the upstart Hawks.

Huerter was averaging 12.3 points per game before the final month of the regular season when he slumped to the tune of 8.3 points per game on 35 percent shooting (32 percent from deep).

But even as he struggled, in the regular season or playoffs, Huerter displayed other facets of his game that went underappreciated upon entering into the league.

We’re certainly all aware now.

Atlanta Hawks forward Kevin Huerter may have surprised some with his poise and skill set in the postseason

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After starting 49 of 69 games he appeared in thanks mostly to injuries, Huerter found himself coming off the bench in the playoffs.

An injury to De’Andre Hunter opened the door for Huerter.

Not until after Nate McMillan experimented with starting Solomon Hill for three games, though.

Once Huerter was inserted into the starting lineup, Atlanta took three of the final four games in the series, with the former Terrapin dropping 27 points in the deciding Game 7 in Philadelphia.

He averaged 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in the series.

It was a bit rockier against the Milwaukee Bucks, as he averaged just 10 points on 34 percent shooting and shot a miserable 26 percent from outside.

Even still, Huerter dished out 4.5 assists in addition to hauling in 3.3 boards per game. That he was able to up his passing and maintain the rebounds despite struggling to put the ball in the basket speaks volumes of his maturity.

It also speaks to the fact that the versatility we’d seen glimpses of during the regular season translates to the playoffs.

His passing was particularly on display when Trae Young went down with a bone bruise. From Game 3 on, Huerter averaged 6.4 assists, including three straight games with seven dimes.

We also got to see him put forth strong efforts on the defensive end.

Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, his primary assignments, were far more equipped to attack Huerter off the dribble than Seth Curry or Tobias Harris. Yet both shot well below 40 percent when matched up against Huerter. Combined the duo averaged just 7.8 points against Huerter.

That’s impressive in the absence of stellar two-way teammates in De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish

The postseason served as confirmation on what he had seen in spurts from Huerter. That, while he’s very adept at scoring the basketball, he isn’t one-dimensional. If you take away his scoring, he will find the open man without hesitation.

And if nothing is working on offense, you can rest assured that he won’t be a complete liability on defense.

Next. Atlanta Hawks: Grading veteran Danilo Gallinari’s first season. dark

That will only help him as the team continues to evolve moving forward.