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Earlier this morning, I posted the top ten highlights from the Hawks preseason games. Now that the euphoria from last night's preseason finale has worn off, I can observe the preseason from a more objective point of view. Here are the four most important observations from the four games.

Cam Reddish Improved Yet Inconsistent

Coach McMillan was direct about his desire to see more out of Reddish during the preseason. McMillan inherited the team late last season and only got a brief sample size of Reddish in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Reddish played in all four preseason games and logged the second-most minutes of the preseason (only behind John Collins). Additionally, he led the team in field goal attempts, 3-point attempts, and steals. The aggressive play was nice, but it came at the expense of offensive efficiency. Reddish shot 34.6% from the field and 28.6% from behind the arc.

The 22-year-old understands the importance of his third season as he will be eligible for a rookie contract extension next summer. But before he begins negotiations, he must first find consistency. 

When he's hot, Reddish is a matchup nightmare. But when his shot isn't falling, he can play himself out of the game. I fully expect McMillan to rein Reddish in on offense in the regular season - and that's a good thing. If the young player can find his role as a 3-and-D player, he will be an integral part of the second unit.

Even if Reddish struggles to find consistency, he's still a valuable part of the team. He's a 6'8 wing capable of guarding multiple positions. When injuries strike in the regular season or matchup problems occur in the postseason, McMillan can throw Reddish at opponents for extra defensive security. I'm still buying stock in Cam Reddish.

De'Andre Hunter Poised for Breakout Season

After a rusty first game back from knee surgery, Hunter looked like a legit contender for Most Improved Player against the Heat. In 29 minutes, he scored 19 points on 7-12 shooting. If the lockdown defender can score at all three levels, the sky is the limit for him in the 2021-22 season and beyond.

The only caveat is he must remain healthy. Last season Hunter missed 49 regular season games. He made a brief appearance in the first round of the playoffs before being ruled out for the remainder of the season. Once again, he had to go under the knife and spend his summer rehabilitating his right knee. Last night he told reporters that he still isn't 100% but feels better and is swelling less after games.

It's hard to imagine a better supporting cast for the development of a young player. Trae Young's ability to get anywhere on the court and attract multiple defenders will be the reason why he leads the league in assists this season. What separates Hunter from his 2019 Draft Classmate, Cam Reddish, is his ability to knock down outside shots consistently.

There is a reason why Coach McMillan and Trae Young always offer glowing reviews of Hunter. He's the team's X-factor, capable of unlocking the challenges presented by other championship contenders.

Scary Starting Five 

You read that last sentence correctly - the Hawks are among the few elite teams contending for a championship. Not only do they possess the deepest roster in the league, but they also have a perfectly balanced starting five. 

There may be only one All-Star on the Hawks, but the starting unit compliments each other nicely. Their defense isn't nearly as bad as critics would leave you to believe. On offense, they give opponents the option of picking their poison.

On any given night, Young can break a long-held NBA record. Or he can set up a teammate through an alley-oop or kickout pass. The team's second and third best players - Clint Capela and John Collins - roam the paint with supremacy. Capela led the league in rebounds last season, and Collins is a walking double-double who continues to round out his game. 

As for the wings, Bogdan Bogdanovic and De'Andre Hunter offer the best of both worlds. Bogdanovic is Kyle Korver 2.0. Think back to when Korver was 29-years-old back in 2010. He wore a Utah Jazz uniform and rocked a Jim Halpert haircut. Now imagine him with a more diverse offensive package and shooting confidence that would make J.R. Smith seem shy. That's what Bogdanovic brings every night (luckily he has a much cooler haircut than 2010 Korver).

I offered glowing reviews of De'Andre Hunter earlier in the article. He reinforces the perimeter defense and is low-maintenance on offense. Every successful team has a glue guy, and that role is filled by Hunter in starting rotation.

This Team Is Fun

What separates basketball from other sports is the joyous nature of the game. Teams are at their best when each player is buying into the system and playing selfless ball. Young does an excellent job of getting everyone involved, and the second string will get ample playing time.

Coach McMillan has repeated the necessity for sacrifice. Most players on the roster would have a bigger role on a different team. But in an era where every player is their own brand, this team is devoid of ego

The body language of this young team is almost always positive. If you watch the bench throughout the game, you'll see the players are having as much fun as the fans. The way these guys move and carry themselves speaks to the character of the team.

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