When De’Andre Hunter plays like this, the Atlanta Hawks win

De’Andre Hunter can often be used as a barometer for the Atlanta Hawks. When he is struggling, then the team feels like they have lost one of their cornerstones and their game can start to crumble around them. However, when he plays well, they are nearly unstoppable.

Hunter was solid in the first half. He showed his usual strong defense, with Miles Bridges going 3 of 6 from the floor which was only good for six points. He did, however, create for others with three assists. Considering Bridges was the team’s leading scorer for the Hornets in the 2021-22 season if Hunter was able to break even, that’s a win.

In the first half, Hunter only connects on one shot, a nice 3 ball in the first quarter. However, Hunter would not remain silent for long. In a second half reminiscent of the game against the Chicago Bulls, Hunter put his stamp on the game, which also helped superstar point guard Trae Young break the shackles.

How De’Andre Hunter is improving the Atlanta Hawks offense

The Hawks offense really benefits Hunter when he’s on the move. Firstly, thanks to the work he put in when the league was suspended thanks to the initial Covid-19 shutdown, he is strong. This means he is able to create a lag, even against his own player, and can punish them in the post.

Second, he’s a terrific floor spacer. His 3-point shooting has improved this season where he now makes 37.9% of his attempts. This means his defender needs to defend him closer to the line where Hunter has shown his ability to get around his player and attack the hoop.

When he does this, Hunter can get into a mid-range jumper or even get to the hoop where it’s hard to stop. He has such a good understanding of where the ball is going to come off the rim that he becomes a good offensive rebounder. He is then able to finish by contact, often putting the opponent at fault and giving himself the chance of a 3-point game.

However, where Hunter helps this offense the most is when he moves. While this is true for all players, moving Hunter just gives Young another option to pass, and when Hunter is close to the edge he is usually the player left for the double team and there is no no pressure on his shot.

16 points on 7 of 8 shots in the third period bear witness to this. The more De’Andre Hunter plays like he did against the Charlotte Hornets, the more games the Atlanta Hawks will win.

Helen L. Cuellar