Three Things we learned about the Hawks last week

Illustration by Myah Anglin |The Signal

The NBA season is only a few weeks old, but people are always forming their own expectations. The 5-5 Hawks entered this year with aspirations to make their first postseason appearance in four years, but so far, they are off to a rough start. With each week, we learn more about this team. 

Here are three things we learned last week.

De’Andre Hunter is on his way to a stellar career

De’Andre Hunter continues to improve and create his shot each and every game. 

In three games last week, he averaged 16.6 points on 50% shooting from the field and 7.3 rebounds.

From his rookie season, he has improved his shooting percentage from 41% to 50%. His three-point shooting percentage has increased from 35% last year to 42% in 2020-21, and, entering yesterday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, his points increased from 12.3 to 16.0. 

Sure, the season began only a few weeks ago, but Hunter has taken a significant step forward and has shown he can be the third scorer on a young ascending team. 

The central question is, “Will he be consistent throughout the 72 game schedule?”

This isn’t the same Kevin Heurter we have seen in years past

The progression of Kevin Huerter has been monumental off the bench. 

It’s as if the second unit gets a jolt whenever he is in the game. Huerter’s shot this season looks better coming out of his hand, and he has improved his three-point shooting percentage to 41%, up from his career average of about 38%.

His field goal percentage is also better. So far this season, Huerter is shooting 50% from the field. Averaging double figures off the bench can help you get more playing time and on the court in those crucial moments. 

He also has been a pest on the defensive end, racking up 1.3 steals a game this far and helping turn the turnovers into easy baskets on the offensive end. His progression has been vital to the team. 

The Hawks bounced back strong from a winless week

Although Atlanta experienced a three-game skid, they have proven that they are a scrappy and gritty team. 

If last Wednesday’s loss were an indication, Atlanta would not back down, no matter the deficit. Down by as many as 24 points to the Charlotte Hornets, the Hawks eventually held the lead for a short moment before succumbing to a late-game run and scoring prowess of Gordon Hayward. 

The second unit and Clint Capela converted second chance opportunities and pushed the ball down the court to convert easy buckets on the fast break. It’s clear that if Atlanta doesn’t have it going offensively, it will not stop them from being competitive and putting their best foot forward. 

Atlanta is currently struggling right now, but these catalysts have helped emphasize that they are a much better team than last year. Still early in the season, anyone can make a run to the postseason. Even if it leads to a first-round exit, the Hawks know they will continue to get the production from these players while sporting a gritty and tough mentality.