Atlanta Hawks: Is De’Andre Hunter really a safer bet than Cam Reddish?

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Atlanta Hawks begin to dole out new money for their rapidly developing homegrown talent, they will have to start making decisions. Sure, they can go into the luxury tax to pay them and have openly discussed a willingness to do so. But they’ve also spoken of not being able to retain everyone.

We’ve seen Trae Young, John Collins, and Clint Capela be rewarded already and management has said Kevin Huerter is a priority.

That leaves De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. Both taken in 2019, the former is coming off of his second meniscus surgery in a calendar year and the former has played sparingly and been involved in countless trade rumors.

Can the Atlanta Hawks count on either De’Andre Hunter or Cam Reddish?

They will be forever linked after being selected in the same 2019 draft class. Hunter was taken with the fourth-overall pick Atlanta got in a multi-player deal the season before. Likewise for Reddish with the 10th-overall pick they picked up in trading Luka Doncic for Trae Young.

The questions around Reddish are very understandable. He’s had both of his seasons interrupted; once by COVID and the other by injury. And when he was on the floor, he wasn’t consistent.

Of his 58 appearances as a rookie, he scored nine or fewer points in 30 of them. 22 of those came in games he started.

It is common for a rookie to be inconsistent though.

Despite being available for only 26 games last season, he did score double-digit points in 15 of those games with 12 coming in starts.

He returned during the Eastern Conference Finals after four months on the sidelines dealing with an Achilles injury. In four games, Reddish scored 10-plus points three times, shot 52.8 percent from the floor, 64.3 percent from deep, and scored 21 points in the deciding Game 6 loss to the eventual champs.

And for all of the talk of his availability, Reddish has missed just two more games than Hunter.

The hype around Hunter is also understandable. He’s proven his worth as a perimeter defender already. But he was just beginning to blossom offensively when he initially went down last season.

In the five games prior to the one in which he suffered the injury, Hunter averaged 22.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while also contributing 2.0 steals.

He returned during the regular season for a pair of inconsequential games only to be shut down again. His return in the postseason came in the Hawks first-round knockout of the New York Knicks.

The defense was still there but the offense was off, as he shot 40 percent from the floor and 37.6 percent from outside en route to 10.8 points per game.

On the positive side, he scored 15 points, grabbed three boards, and had one steal and one block apiece in his final game. Basically, Hunter was back to showing most of his all-around skill set.

But, after two knee surgeries in less than a year and a contract decision looming after the 2023 season, means the jury is just as out on Hunter as it is Reddish.

Could this be why we see more talk of teams scoping out the former Duke Blue Devil as opposed to the former Mountaineer? If another team is going to use the next year to evaluate the health and potential of a player they might trade for, the one who didn’t undergo surgery makes more sense.

That brings us back to the Hawks.

They don’t need the next year to evaluate; which could be the other part of why we hear more about Reddish than Hunter. By all accounts, the latter is on schedule for training camp. At this point, however, Hunter would probably also be the more expensive player to re-sign.

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In the end, the level of interest in Reddish is warranted and the level of expectations for Hunter is appropriate. But the right deal (see: godfather offer) could likely get either one. It would be nice to get a definitive answer before making a decision on the future of either though.