Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter gets honest about adjusting to Quin Snyder

Atlanta Hawks, De'Andre Hunter. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, De'Andre Hunter. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks fell 126-120 to the New York Knicks in the home opener.

They did, however, get a stellar performance from De’Andre Hunter. He finished with a team-high 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc while he also knocked down all eight of his free throw attempts. Hunter also had six rebounds, one assist, and one block with zero turnovers in more than 32 minutes of action.

It was the 27th time in Hunter’s four-plus seasons that he’s attempted that many threes in a single outing but the second time he’s done it under head coach Quin Snyder.

It’s a little different,” Hunter said via atlhawksfans on October 27. “I usually shoot more midrange shots. But he just empowers me to take more threes while also taking those midrange shots as well. So I tried to do that tonight.”

Snyder’s ethos in the NBA has been heavy three-point shooting with his Utah Jazz teams’ sitting perched at or near the top of the rankings in that category once he was established. It is an expected change to the Hawks’ offense which ranked 28th in three-point attempts last season.

It hasn’t quite taken hold just yet.

The Hawks rank 26th in attempts in an admittedly small sample size of two games. But Hunter’s only scoring 11.1% of his points from the midrange so far this season, per NBA.com.

That would be a career-low mark if it holds throughout the entire campaign. Not coincidentally, the percentage of his points produced from beyond the arc is up to 33.3%, the second-highest mark of his career behind only his rookie season (41.6%).

Hunter also drew the unenviable task of guarding Jalen Brunson. Brunson had a game-high 31 pts on 52.4% shooting including 8-for-12 from three-point range on the night. He was 4-for-6 from the floor and 3-for-3 from deep with Hunter guarding him. But the Hawks wing wasn’t going to back down from that or any similar challenge.

“That’s what I’m here for,” Hunter said. “He was cooking tonight so I’m always up for that challenge. That’s what the team needs me to do, and Coach has the confidence in me to do that. So that’s what I try to do.”

Defensively, the Hawks are still trying to lock in consistently too. But Hunter acknowledged that it is a work in progress when confronted with comments from Snyder and Trae Young that the team is still getting “more comfortable” with some of the finer aspects of what is being asked of them by the coaches.

“I think we just have to keep working on it,” Hunter said. “Watch film, learn where to get from it at. It’s a little different than what we have been doing. But we just have to keep working at it.”

De’Andre Hunter’s offseason work could pay off for Hawks

Hunter quipped on media day that he had not worked on adding anything to his game this past offseason but he has certainly looked far more decisive on offense to begin the year. Asked again what he worked on over the summer, Hunter offered a far more insightful and telling answer.

“Just working on my game,” Hunter said.

“Working on learning the game better, being able to pick my spots in the flow of the offense, and stuff like that. That’s pretty much it.”

It certainly has shown in the early going and bodes well for the Hawks even though they are now trying to climb out of an 0-2 hole to start the season, not what they wanted after being 41-41 last year.

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They next take the court on October 29 on the road versus Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and the Milwaukee Bucks helmed by Hawks swingman AJ Griffin’s father, Adrian Griffin.