Atlanta Hawks: Grading De’Andre Hunter’s injury plagued, breakout season

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks were not invited to the bubble last season meaning that their players had a massive amount of time between games. De’Andre Hunter decided to use this time to work on himself and came back to the NBA this season a changed player.

He had put on muscle and as a result, he became a lot harder to defend. He was able to score on all three levels, hitting from deep, finding a good shot for himself inside the arc, and using his strength to get to the line when he backs his defender down.

Prior to his injury, Hunter was playing like the third cornerstone of the franchise. He wanted the hardest defensive assignment every night, and when he was beaten by a player, he worked hard to not get beaten again.

The Atlanta Hawks injury curse hit De’Andre Hunter’s season

Hunter played 18 of the team’s first 19 games and was tremendous. Then against the Washington Wizards in late January, Hunter came off with knee soreness and would not return for two months. He came back for two games near the end of March.

He would then miss another month and a half of basketball, coming back, ironically, against the Washington Wizards with four games left in the season. Hunter would then play three of the last four games, on severe minutes restrictions, in order to get him ready for the playoffs.

Hunter would only play the first series again the New York Knicks before having to have knee surgery, ending his season.