Before the season, I pegged Kevin Huerter as a player that could take a significant leap forward in his second season. Unfortunately, injuries have plagued his sophomore campaign, limiting him to just 26 games (18 starts) and making it difficult for him ever to find a groove. But with those issues now in the rearview, Red Velvet is beginning to look like the player I expected to start the season.
The lanky sniper is putting up nearly identical numbers to his rookie year, however, over the last couple of weeks he’s started to look a lot more like Klay Thompson than Kevin Huerter. In his last ten games, he’s averaging just over 16 points a contest on 43.6% from the field and 40.6% from three-point range. Huerter has also become more of a contributor as a passer, putting up 3.7 assists per game over that stretch to go along with his 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals as well.
And if you want to shorten that sample size even more – to the past four games – Huerter has been a borderline All-Star caliber talent. He’s had 17 points or more in each contest and is averaging 21 a night on over 50% shooting from the field and 48.4% from the three-point line, while also racking in close to seven boards and dishing out nearly four assists.
The shooting shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Even though Huerter shot 38.5% from three as a rookie – a more than acceptable rate for a first-year player – he was disappointed and said 40% from deep should be his baseline. Huerter’s not quite there this year (38.1%), but considering he is just now getting his feet under him after a couple of nagging injuries, I’d expect him to surpass that mark by season’s end.
What’s been even more refreshing to see, however, has been his contributions in other areas. We all knew he could shoot, but Huerter is grabbing boards at an extremely high rate for a shooting guard and has also gotten miles better as a passer and defender. He’s becoming a real quality player for the Hawks and is undoubtedly the team’s X-Factor moving forward. Trae Young and John Collins are an outstanding one-two punch, but Atlanta needs to find a third option if they ever want to start stringing together wins. As of now, it looks like Huerter is blossoming into that guy.
There have been a lot of trade talks recently surrounding the Hawks, as Schlenk evaluates all his options to improve this team. Kevin Huerter is going to be a guy thrown around in possible deals, but I would be shocked if Atlanta decided to move on from him so soon. He had a promising rookie campaign, and injuries aside, he has the makings of a tremendous NBA player. The Hawks would be foolish to include him in a deal that did not net them a superstar caliber talent.