De’André HunterS’s growth in their second season and two-way play is one of the main reasons Hawks optimists believe this team can take a step forward after their impressive playoff streak. He can be an X factor for this team.
But Hunter will be slowed down early in the season, GM Travis Schlenk told reporters last Friday. By Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
De’Andre Hunter, who struggled with his knee last year, will not be a full participant and will be back. He’s played 1-on-1, and the Hawks expect him to be 100 percent ready by the start of the season. . Hunter underwent an MRI before the Hawks’ first playoff game with Philadelphia, which revealed a tear in the lateral meniscus in his right knee and underwent surgery in June.
After what can only be described as a terrible rookie season, Hunter looked much better in the 23 games he was healthy enough to play last season in Atlanta. He’s averaged 15 points per game with a live shooting percentage of 60.3 and he’s a quality winger defenseman.
If Hunter can take another leap forward in his third season, he can play a vital role for the Hawks as they look to show that last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals was not no accident. Something that will be difficult to do in a deeper and more dangerous East this season.