Atlanta Hawks: Expectations for De’Andre Hunter after injury-filled season

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

When we boast of the Atlanta Hawks depth being among the best in the league, it isn’t hyperbole. They can legitimately claim to be three-deep at every position when healthy, but that was a major caveat last season as they were in the top-five in games lost due to injury.

It’s the only thing from last season that they could have done without.

Forward De’Andre Hunter was one of the players to miss a significant chunk of the regular season, appearing in just 18 games before going out the first time and only played in five regular-season games the rest of the way.

Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter could be better with worse stats next season

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He would return for the playoffs but would only last five games — enough to send the Knicks packing — before going out again.

Hunter was averaging 17.2/5.4/2.2 and shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 36.6 percent from three-point range.

But he was really coming on before the injury, averaging 22.2 points in the five games before he went down.

In his lone playoff series, he averaged 10.8 points and 4.0 rebounds.

He had only played three games after a 24-game layoff though. Hunter had surgery on his meniscus in June.

Hunter was expected to be ready for camp and has already begun on-court shooting per the latest reports.

The 6-foot-8 forward will return to a deeper team that has gained a ton of experience.

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We know about veterans like Danilo Gallinari. And Bogdan Bogdanovic showed his mettle as well during the postseason. But Kevin Huerter also opened a ton of eyes as he heads into a contract year.

Cam Reddish did the same albeit in a smaller sample size. So much so that he’s been bandied about in trade rumors since the season ended.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, the Hawks first-round draft pick Jalen Johnson has looked like he’ll be hard to keep off of the floor this coming season as well.

All of that talent could mean less gaudy numbers than we might have projected for Hunter otherwise, similarly to John Collins last season. It will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out as he becomes extension eligible and works toward his next deal.

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That’s a decent way out and his health is at the forefront until he takes the court. Just know it could look much different than it did before he got hurt. He could wind up playing better and still having his stats dip. As long as he does that and continues being one of the best young perimeter defenders, he and the Hawks will be just fine.