Locked On Hawks: Assessing De'Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter's 2020 Seasons
In securing their long-term offensive centerpiece, the Hawks also confined themselves to a specific kind of team-building approach. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is certainly clarifying. With Trae Young squarely at the center of Atlanta's foundation, the Hawks must complement him with players who can both fit in on offense and mask Young's limitations on defense. Put simply, that means stocking up on versatile wings who can space the floor and guard multiple positions.
Atlanta has drafted three such players in the last two years, including De'Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter, who, when healthy, comprised 40 percent of Atlanta's starting lineup this season and figure heavily into the team's future plans. On this week's Locked On Hawks podcast, I joined Brad Rowland to discuss Huerter and Hunter's progress in 2020 and what to expect from the pair next season and beyond.
Both Hunter and Huerter showed promising signs, even if they still have room to grow before they become reliable starters on a playoff team, as the Hawks hope they'll be. Hunter led all rookies in minutes last season and was one of few mainstays in a banged-up and inconsistent rotation. He shot over 34 percent from beyond the arc and showed flashes of capability with the ball in his hands as a secondary playmaker. His defense isn't yet where the Hawks need it to be, but Hunter still looks the part of a versatile perimeter defender capable of at least slowing the league's best wing scorers.
Huerter's season was segmented by two different injuries, which prevented him from getting into much of a rhythm until just before the season stopped. Still, his shooting, passing, and feel helped boost Atlanta's offense after the All-Star break, and his ability to fit into nearly any offensive role should prove quite useful moving forward. Huerter still has areas in which he can improve -- most notably his aggressiveness as a driver and shooter -- and his exact role on a more evolved team remains to be seen. But the Hawks have little reason at this point to feel discouraged by the second-year wing.
For a fuller breakdown of Hunter, Huerter, Vince Carter, and Charlie Brown's seasons, listen to this week's edition of Locked On Hawks. For analysis of the rest of the roster, check out the other three episodes of the season review series. The final installment -- which focuses on Trae Young, Jeff Teague, and Brandon Goodwin -- drops soon.