Atlanta Hawks player profile for the 2022-23 season: Deandre Hunter

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

De’Andre Hunter goes into this year with questions about his future with the Atlanta Hawks. The young player has yet to sign an extension with the squad and his contract expires after this year. How has this Hawks starter got to this point? What is his future with the squad?

Hunter is a good complement to this Hawks team because of his defense and three-point shooting. While he isn’t a star by any means, he certainly fills his role on this squad and is very good in his role as well.

He was drafted with the 4th overall pick in the 2019 draft. This moved around until the Hawks finally traded it up. In his rookie year, Hunter averaged 12.3 points per game on 41 percent shooting. including 35.5 percent from three. He did not really create his own shot but he did space the floor really well for the team.

How De’Andre Hunter has developed for the Atlanta Hawks

The second year was basically the same story, except he averaged15.0 points per game. He struggled a little more from three, shooting only 32.6 percent from three. He did increase his shooting within the arc, going at 58.6 percent which was an uptick from 47.4 percent.

During last season’s run, he had a similar level of play except his scoring average went down to 13.4 points per game. He shot way better from three, shooting a lethal 37.9 percent from outside the arc.

On offense, I wouldn’t really expect him to create a lot this season. Much of his production will come from pick-and-roll actions on kick-outs. The spacing that those actions create will give Hunter favorable shots from three. You can’t just spam the close-out button on the young player. As if you allow him the chance to drive, he will drive to the basket or kick it out to the open man.

The offense can’t function efficiently without him shooting the ball well. Considering how he has played in the first couple of years in Atlanta, the Hawks should be fine. On defense, look for him to pick up matchups against wings.

Hunter is a decent wing defender. While he isn’t great, he is certainly reliable. I would say that Hunter will pick up the second-best wing player on the opposing team. While he might not limit the best of these players in the league to 10 points in the game, he certainly makes it challenging for them. This job is made easier with the addition of Dejounte Murray.

It easier now for Hunter as he can focus less attention on helping against opposing guards on defense. In the past, the guard on the floor not named Trae Young had to defend the best guard. Hunter would have to help with his assignment as well.

Hunter not only had to focus on his man but had to help defend the best guard. Additionally, the player Young was guarding was most likely going be open because the star isn’t a good defender, despite his best efforts.

Hunter is a restricted free agent after this year. I think whether he stays with the squad long-term comes down to if the Hawks are contenders in the Eastern Converence with the current nucleus. If the Hawks can compete with this squad, there will be little reason to move.

There is a question about the price tag. The Hawks have both Murrays’ and, Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s extension next year. This means that things could get pricy and the luxury tax conversation gets involved again. If Hunter does not get an extension at some point in the future, look for him to be traded in a move with Collins to get the third star.

It i=s likely Hunter gets extended to a deal that is fair market value. I would say that Tony Ressler probably took into account that things might get a little pricy after accruing Murray. Additionally, the league is in a two-star team model now. NBA teams prefer to have two stars over three because of longer runs at contention (it’s much easier to build a team around two max players than three in the long-term).

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If the Hawks want to make sure they make the play-in, Hunter will need to make his three-point shots and play good defense. I think that he will be able to do it and he will do it better with the addition of Murray. Unless he unexpectedly developed his own isolation game over the offseason, I don’t really think that he can impact the Atlanta Hawks’ desire to make the playoff through a top-six seed.