De’Andre Hunter is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft and is a sure-fire lottery pick. The Virginia product spent two years in college after redshirting as a freshman, showing unique versatility that has caught the eyes of every NBA scout.
Hunter projects to be a small forward at the next level, but with the way the NBA is leaning towards smaller lineups, I could see him in the frontcourt next to John Collins at times. As you might expect from a player under Tony Bennet, he does all the little things well – never out of control, plays exceptional defense, and is an extremely efficient basketball player.
At an athletic 6’7″ with an incredible 7’2″ wingspan, he will be able to guard several positions at the next level and possibly all five of them. There shouldn’t be a switch he is incapable of making, and he takes pride in that side of the ball. It is a little odd that Hunter only averaged 0.6 steals and 0.5 blocks in his two years at Virginia, but that is most likely a testament to the style of ball they play and their emphasis on team defense. Hunter will be a plus defender and could become an elite defender in the NBA.
Offensively, he rarely forces things, and there isn’t a particular area of weakness for defenses to attack. He’s not as smooth as a player like Cam Reddish, but the results from everywhere on the floor are there. Hunter can put his head down and attack the basket with the ball in his hand. His handle is not exceptional, but his strength to finish around the cup is as good as any other prospect I have watched to this point. As a long athlete, he can finish over the top of rim protectors in the NBA, but he’s just as impressive taking contact, remaining focused, and kissing it off the glass.
The jump shot is there and only improved throughout his college career. He shot over 38% as a redshirt freshman and bumped it up to 43.8% this past year on 2.8 attempts per game. It’s not a ton of attempts for a player who projects as a small forward in the NBA, but once again, Virginia’s pace of play and style is going to have an impact on that number. Hunter excels as a shooter, and if you watched the NCAA Tournament, he had no problem chucking them up and making them when the Hoos needed a three most.
I even like Hunter’s mid-range game. He can create space off the dribble and shoot from 18 feet, or he can play bully ball in the post on smaller defenders because of his size and length. Offensively, there isn’t anything that he can’t do. From here, it’s all about continuous improvement in those areas. Judging by the fact that he went from redshirt freshman to lottery pick in a couple of years; it shows he has the necessary work ethic to reach his ultra-high ceiling.
Cam Reddish has been my favorite wing prospect since he started at Duke. His game has been so smooth since the first time he stepped on the floor for the Blue Devils. But De’Andre Hunter gives him a run for his money. He is the fantastic defensive prospect the Hawks will be looking for as they aim to get better on that end of the floor. Hunter also won’t be a guy who demands the ball out of Trae Young’s hand, but when the team needs a bucket, I believe he can be the guy. If Reddish, Culver or Hunter were selected with the 8th overall pick, I would be a happy man.