Graphic shows just how much the Atlanta Hawks miss De’Andre Hunter

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

At 15-19, the Atlanta Hawks are just one game ahead of their pace at the same point last season. The biggest difference is that, instead of fighting with their head coach and each other, they are battling COVID and a league that is seemingly giving them the short end of the stick when it comes to their roster.

The Hawks have been forced to play with as few as four rotation guys despite other teams having their games postponed.

It has been tough sledding as the Hawks have lost Trae Young and Clint Capela (both of whom have since returned) and are still waiting for Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, and a host of others to return.

There is one graphic, however, that illustrates just how much they miss one player in particular.

As teams pick the Atlanta Hawks apart, De’Andre Hunter’s absence looms large

Forward De’Andre Hunter has been out since undergoing wrist surgery on Nov 15 with a recovery timeline of two months. We are a little over two weeks from that target date. The latest word on the third-year forward from Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk was that Hunter had graduated to shooting and is expected back “in the next few weeks”.

Last we’d heard the 6-foot-8 wing was still getting up shots, only they were one-handed, and had just started dribbling.

On top of that good news, which stood out even more amid all of their COVID woes, Basketball Index recently tweeted out a graphic to show how good Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges has been defensively based on his impact and matchup difficulty..

Spoiler alert: really, really good.

Tucked away in the same graphic, though, was Hunter. His impact is lagging but part of that is due to recovering from offseason surgery as he played. The Hawks were just 4-9 with Hunter healthy; a .444 winning percentage.

Since he’s been out, they’ve gone 11-10 but went on a six-game losing streak as well as a seven-game winning streak.

That leaves them at 4-4 otherwise; not too bad of a record all things considered. They’ve even allowed opponents to average just .9 points fewer per game. Opponents are shooting a similar 46.3 percent overall post-Hunter (46.2 percent with) too.

The biggest jump reflects what the chart shows as the Hawks have allowed the other team to shoot 35.5 percent from three-point range in the games since losing the former Virginia Cavalier. That number was 34.8 percent prior.

light. Related Story. The Hawks have every right to be frustrated with the league

Of course, the other players on the shelf make a difference including Huerter and even Okongwu.

But being able to have Hunter make the other team’s best player work harder than usual to get theirs or sticking him on the second-best player to completely neutralize them isn’t anything to sneeze at.

The Hawks have given up 130-plus points in back-to-back games and five times this season; all in the last month.

Offensively, Hunter is averaging a career-low 10.8 points on 45 percent shooting and had been miserable at the free-throw line, shooting just 40 percent on very few attempts. He is shooting a career-best 39.5 percent from distance but the Hawks have been solid in that regard.

The Hawks 10-Day players showed well despite loss to Bulls. dark. Next

Also on the graphic is Delon Wright. His impact has been greater than Hunter’s but his matchups nowhere near as difficult.