Hawks: De’Andre Hunter is quietly improving his game

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The Hawks shocked a lot of the NBA world when they went ahead and handed De’Andre Hunter a four-year, $90 million contract extension. He wasn’t exactly the most consistent player over his first three seasons, and his health played a significant role in the lack of development. Giving him a contract worth more than $22 million a year wasn’t a wise move, according to many, but Hunter has been able to stay healthy in his fourth season and is putting together a career year.

The University of Virginia product is averaging a career-high 15.6 points per game on 46.5% shooting and 36.3% from behind the arc. His staple coming out of college was his defense and three-point shooting, but while he still stands to improve in both of those areas, his shot creation has taken a massive step forward in his fourth year.

According to Kirk Goldsberry, of players with at least 100 shot attempts from off the dribble, Hunter ranks fourth in the league, averaging 1.12 points per shot. That’s just a hair behind Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry.

I was in the same boat as most when the Hawks gave Hunter that massive contract this offseason. I thought it had the potential to be disastrous, but he’s shown some very promising signs this season, enough to inspire some confidence in the organization moving forward.

As a team, the Hawks have underachieved. Trae Young and Dejounte Murray have done their part, but Atlanta desperately needs a third option to step up and take control. Coming into the year, many thought that player would be John Collins. Unfortunately, he has regressed considerably this season, but perhaps De’Andre Hunter can be that critical third scoring option over the next four years. The Hawks need him to be if they want to salvage this thing and hold off another full fledged rebuild.

Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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