The Game Does Not Match the Hype
Many fans are getting caught up in the performance of De’Andre Hunter in the NCAA Championship game. He definitely shut down Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver, holding him to a putrid 5/22 shooting performance. Culver is expected to be a top seven pick in this year’s draft, thus unavailable when the Atlanta Hawks select at pick number eight, unless a trade to move up is made. We must keep in mind that Jarrett Culver is a good player, but has physical limitations himself. That doesn’t totally take away from what Hunter did, but it must be considered as he will face NBA wings that are much quicker and more athletic overall, with better ball handling skills
A closer look at the box score of the game shows that while De’Andre Hunter took advantage of his opportunities making 4/5 three-point attempts, he was only 4/11 on two point field goals. This shows he struggled on contested shots. The game was also the first time Hunter had scored more than 14 points since round one of the tournament against 16 seed Gardner-Webb, as he failed to reach the 20 point mark for four consecutive tournament games. It was only the third time in six tournament games that he shot 50 percent or better from the field.
The truth is there are numerous accounts of college players who had heroic performances in the NCAA Tournament, but those are still the best memories we have of them as a basketball player many years later. Players such as Ed O’Bannon, Corliss Williamson, Mateen Cleves, Juan Dixon and Corey Brewer are all much more revered for their college careers, as opposed to their NBA contributions. Players such as Klye Singler, Luke Hancock, Shabazz Napier, Tyus, Jones and Joel Berry II have all won the Most Outstanding Player award for the NCAA Tournament this decade. In fact only Anthony Davis and Kemba Walker have won the MOP in this decade and went on NBA stardom. The thing is De’Andre Hunter did not even win MOP for the Virginia Cavaliers, his teammate Kyle Guy did. Hunter was named to the NCAA All Tournament Team however. The point is, there is no guarantee, nor is there a track record of NCAA Tournament success, translating into NBA success.
The Atlanta Hawks Should Aim Higher
I believe that De’Andre Hunter will be a solid three and D role player like DeMarre Carroll was for the Atlanta Hawks. Yet general manager Travis Schlenk should avoid drafting, low floor, low ceiling De’Andre Hunter. While I don’t question the fact that Hunter has the drive and work ethic to maximize the potential he has, there are younger more talent prospects with just as much drive. These players have more tools already in place to develop. I trust that Travis Schlenk can find those young players among this years draft prospects. Players that will be much more than just solid role players who have major limitations.
The Hawks having a DeMarre Carroll type wing player is nice, but the worse thing that could happen in this draft, is for Atlanta to pass on a future star for a limited role player. The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club is in a good place and can easily lure a perimeter role player in free agency at this point. It is rather the team can lure a star free agent that is in question. There is no need to use a top ten draft pick on this style player. So I say swing for the fences Travis Schlenk. If the Hawks are considering drafting De’Andre Hunter should he be available at pick number eight, my advice to the Hawks would be a quote from the great Atlanta rapper Andre 3000 in the song “Players Anthem”: “Don’t do it, reconsider, read some literature on the subject.”