De’Andre Hunter gives the Atlanta Hawks some hope after the Heat series

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks were totally outplayed by the Miami Heat during their first-round playoff series. Fortunately for the Hawks they had a bright spot amidst the darkness, where third-year man De’Andre Hunter announced himself to the rest of the league quite loudly.

This was the first playoff series that Hunter has played without being under an injury cloud. He played the first-round series against the New York Knicks last season and then went back out through injury for the remainder of the 2021 plaoffs.

This season Hunter played the first round series against the Heat and he played like he is the third cornerstone that he was promising to become before injury last season. He averaged 21.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 0.8 steals in 35.0 minutes per game.

The Atlanta Hawks benefitted from De’Andre Hunter’s efficiency.

While Hunter had issues throughout the series with ball-handling and cold patches of shooting, that does not take away from how he shot the ball overall. He was 55.7 percent from the floor, 46.2 percent from behind the 3-point line, and he even hit 80.0 percent from the line, which has been an area of difficulty for Hunter in the past.

While there were stretches where he did not take the Heat’s best player, this is understandble given that at times he was the Hawks only contributor on the offensive end. Given how much Kevin Huerter struggled offensively this series, Hunter’s offense was curcial to the Hawks staying in games.

This sets the Hawks up for a very interesting offseason. Hunter is eligible for the extension of his rookie deal and with the way he played, particularly towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, the Hawks front office would be asleep at the wheel if they did not extend Hunter.

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The thing is, the Hawks are starting to build something special. They have the makings of a good young core but they are still too reliant on Trae Young. If this series can give Hunter the shot of confidence required for him to take the next step, then this short term pain with be worth the long term gain.