Recent reports from GM Travis Schlenk suggest that Cam Reddish is extremely close to suiting up again for the first time since February 21st. Given Reddish’s potential as a young player, it’s exciting, but I was still hesitant to believe it would have much impact on the Hawks’ postseason run this year. That all changed yesterday after De’Andre Hunter was announced out for the season with a torn meniscus.
Hunter had become the third option offensively for the Hawks, scoring at all three levels efficiently. As much as I love Solomon Hill for his leadership, he provides next to nothing on offense, which allows the 76ers to focus more on Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Still, that’s not where the team will miss Hunter the most.
After a so-so season defensively as a rookie, Hunter became the team’s best perimeter defender and showed the ability to defend bigger players, such as Julius Randle, in the post. Take a look at his defensive rating in the regular season and playoffs:
On the left: Defensive Ratings for Hawks players (who averaged at least 15 mins/game) in the regular season
On the right: Defensive Ratings for Hawks players (who averaged at least 15 mins/game) in the playoffs so far: pic.twitter.com/iydem1WMzu
— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) June 9, 2021
Reddish may not be as good defensively, but he certainly provides plenty of length, athleticism, and quickness — making it challenging for opponents to score on him. Especially if the Hawks can make it past the 76ers, they will need a player like Reddish to bother the likes of Harden, Irving, and Kevin Durant as much as possible (yes, I’m already declaring the Nets victory over the Bucks).
Reddish is also an exponential upgrade over Solomon Hill offensively. I know his shooting percentages were gaudy in the 26 games he played this season, but he’s not a guy opponents can just sag off and let shoot. We saw what he could do offensively at the end of his rookie campaign when he averaged 14.3 points on 45.8% from the field and 41.9% from behind the arc over his last 20 games. Many thought Reddish, not De’Andre Hunter, would experience a breakout in his second season. It didn’t work out like that, but he’s not a player opposing teams want to get hot in a series.
I’m not quite sold that we will see Reddish again this season. Even if we do, there’s no telling if McMillan will trust him enough to play significant minutes, given he hasn’t suited up in over three months. However, if there were ever a time when the Hawks could use his presence, even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes a night, it’s right now.
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