Atlanta Hawks: How De’Andre Hunter’s absence will affect the team

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

As the Atlanta Hawks (4-9) return home from an unfruitful (see: winless) four-game trip out West, a lot of pressure is on to stop a losing streak that has reached six games. The Hawks have lost eight of their last nine games and they could benefit from taking a “fresh start” approach in their first home game in two weeks.

The Milwaukee Bucks, their opponent in their return to State Farm Arena, come in with issues of their own. While they are expected to have Giannis Antetokounmpo back from an ankle injury, they will still be without Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.

Milwaukee (6-7) has also lost six of their last nine games including their overtime loss to the Celtics on Friday.

The Atlanta Hawks can survive De’Andre Hunter’s third absence of the season

Atlanta will be without De’Andre Hunter for the third time this season as he deals with wrist soreness. They are 1-1 in his previous absences, blowing out the Detroit Pistons at home earlier in the year and falling to the Utah Jazz on the road just two games ago.

More than the record, the numbers suggest the Hawks could actually improve in some aspects without him for now.

Before going any further, it must be stated that none of this is to suggest that Hunter should not be a major part of this team going forwards or that they would be better off without him in the long run.

That aside, they interestingly have a better defensive rating with him off of the floor this season. This isn’t just including the games he missed, but even when he went to the bench.

Obviously, there are a few reasons for this, one of which is as simple as he sits when his defensive assignment, often the opposing team’s best player, does. That means the other team would more than likely be scoring at a slower clip anyway.

However, Hunter hasn’t exactly been great in his individual defensive matchups this season.

Going against the top scorers in the league, Hunter is going to give up buckets. But it has been a reversal of sorts from last season’s (also small) sample size. Last season, the Hawks were 6.9 points worse defensively per 100 possessions without Hunter on the floor. They are 11.1 points better without him this season.

Now, it also needs to be said, they’re offensive rating is 10.5 points better with him this season compared to 2.6 worse last season.

That still means his rating is a net-negative on the season.

He’s averaging 10.8 points on 45 percent shooting with 2.7 rebounds per game; all career-lows. Hunter is also knocking down a career-low 40 percent of his (very few) free throws. The third-year forward has scored two points in two of his last three outings.

He is shooting a career-high 39.5 percent from downtown.

Many felt Hunter would have made a world of difference in the Eastern Conference Finals as the Hawks fell to the Bucks in six games. Unfortunately, they won’t get to test that theory in this game as they search for answers to their own slow start.

Bogdan Bogdanovic is also questionable for this contest.

Next. Studs and duds from a very disappointing road trip. dark

That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a good chance to get a much-needed win. After all, they got two without him in the Eastern Conference Finals.