In true De’Andre Hunter fashion, the former star for the Virginia Cavaliers had the biggest game of his career last night while his Atlanta Hawks were facing elimination against the Miami Heat in game five of their first round series. Hunter finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals in 43 minutes of play on 11-21 shooting from the floor, 3-7 from beyond the three-point arc, and 10-11 from the charity stripe.
Notably, Hunter scored a whopping 18 points in the fourth quarter as he took the game over while Atlanta’s leading man Trae Young struggled to make shots. There was seemingly no play Hunter couldn’t make, no shot he couldn’t hit. It was reminiscent of his 2019 National Championship performance when he put up 27 points and hit two huge triples to lead the ‘Hoos to their first title.
With Hunter eligible for an extension with the Hawks this offseason, he’ll have improved his stock with his performances throughout this series. Over the five games, Hunter averaged 21.2 points per game on 58.1% shooting and an incredible 52.6% success rate from three.
What’s been most impressive in his development has been Hunter’s growth as a scorer. Once thought to be no more than a “3-and-D” prospect, the former ‘Hoo has displayed his capability as a scorer at all three levels. Against Miami in game five, he hit triples off the catch and off the dribble, worked his way to the midrange to find his spots and make pull up jumpers, and drove to the rim where he finished strongly.
It’s a shame that the Hawks couldn’t pull out the victory despite Hunter’s heroic performance. Nevertheless, the core of this Atlanta group is promising as Trae Young is one of the young stars in the league. Assuming the Hawks lock Hunter up for the long term this summer with a major contract extension, they’re a few more pieces and further development from the young guns away from being real contenders in a stacked Eastern Conference.