Like Schlenk said they would, The Hawks ignored positions and took the best player available with their two top-ten selections in the draft. Both De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish play on the wing and could be ready to start from day one. If they both did, that would leave Kevin Huerter on the bench, or would it? There is a way, and it’s rather fathomable, they can all coincide and thrive on the court at the same time.
De’Andre Hunter is an amazingly versatile player. He’s 6’7″ and quick like a guard but has a wingspan of 7’2″, allowing him to guard much bigger opponents. Jay Bilas of ESPN believes Hunter is the best defender in the class and can legitimately defend all five positions at the next level. One thing Travis Schlenk mentioned he noticed in the NBA Finals is the trend towards positionless basketball. Hunter is the poster boy for that, especially defensively. He can easily play the power forward spot and might even be better suited for that position in today’s NBA.
The same can be said for Cam Reddish. At 6’9″ with a wingspan over seven feet as well, he will be able to defend several positions at the next level. Most people know Reddish for his offensive potential, but the defensive side of his game is there too. He isn’t shy about it either. When asked what the fans of Atlanta are getting in him, Reddish ended his answer with, “I’m a good defender. I can defend at a high level.” He averaged 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks in under 30 minutes as a freshman at Duke.
It also helps that both of these top picks are unselfish players. You don’t go to Virginia unless you appreciate defense and playing the game the correct way, which means sacrificing numbers and shots for wins. That’s what Hunter did for the Cavaliers, and it ended in a championship. Reddish’s lone season at Duke didn’t end in glory, but Schlenk said he was impressed by the way he handled taking a back seat to Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Not many top recruits are willing to do that at such a young age, but Reddish was able to maintain focus on the defensive end and hit clutch shots when the team needed him most.
On the offensive side is where Huerter, Reddish, and Hunter will be able to coincide the easiest. All three are absolute snipers from three-point range, and none of them need the ball in their hand to find their shot. Reddish and Hunter are more capable of getting a bucket in isolation but are just fine roaming the perimeter while Trae Young and John Collins work. Both are excellent slashers as well.
This might not be the starting lineup this year, but it shouldn’t shock anybody if it is:
PG) Trae Young
SG) Kevin Huerter
SF) Cam Reddish
PF) De’Andre Hunter
C) John Collins
It is similar to the Warriors Hampton-Five group, except the shooting might be even better. All five of these players could finish better than 35% from three-point range next season – a couple could even eclipse the 40% mark. That kind of floor spacing will allow for so many open lanes to the basket, and they now have two more players that can put the ball on the floor and create their own offense.
Defensively, Trae Young is never going to be great, but the length of Huerter, Reddish, and Hunter should make up for that. The biggest question will be whether John Collins can take the next step defensively. He’s agile and athletic enough to be a better defender than he’s been in his first two seasons but will need to improve for the Hawks to throw this lineup on the floor often.
Reddish and Hunter were made for the era of positionless basketball. Their length and skill allow them to fill so many different roles on both ends of the court. This may not be the starting lineup, but it is a group that would be dynamite in transition and bury opponents with jump shots.