Hawks’ bet on Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter paid off, NBA star becomes fantasy hoops gem
The Atlanta Hawks entered the 2019 draft with 2 top 10 picks, and high expectations for drafting players to build around for the future. After a rookie season that was pestered with major ups and downs, the Atlanta Hawks might have been concerned that their number 4 overall selection DeAndre Hunter wasn’t who they thought he could be.
Through 10 games to start his second season, though, Hunter is proving those doubts to be incorrect. The 6 foot 8 inch power forward has upped his efficiency and overall play that has played a major contribution to the Hawks unexpected start.
What fantasy sports players should be watching for
Hunter has been one of the breakout players from a fantasy sports standpoint to begin the season. With spotty play last year, there was plenty to be skeptical about for the young forward. He’s made amends for any trust lost last season, coming out and averaging 16.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists through 10 games.
Along with the raw numbers, a huge increase from his rookie season is his efficiency. Last year he was shooting 41% from the field, and 35.5% from three. As of this point in the new season, the sophomore is 51.8% from the field, and 43.5% from three, a marked improvement for a second year player.
With an average draft position on ESPN of 132nd overall and 39th among power forwards, the community at large was clearly not optimistic on his fantasy potential. He’s come out strong though and is proving those expectations wrong. He’s currently rostered on 80.6% of ESPN leagues, which is up from 46.2% just a week ago, so people have been put on notice of his production.
Another plus of adding DeAndre to your roster would be that he fills out both the Power Forward slot and Small Forward slot which makes him a really versatile player to have on rosters, which I always enjoy on my fantasy sports teams.
Individual success combined with team success
After establishing himself on the national stage when Hunter started for the NCAA championship winning Virginia team, there was some pressure put on him as a likely lottery pick. In his rookie campaign he showed flashes of why he was drafted so high, once putting up a career high 28 points, but he struggled to maintain consistency. He would often struggle to string together multiple games in a row scoring in double figures. Through the first few games so far, he’s been able to establish more dependable play.
His improved play is certainly part of the reason the team is sitting at 5-5 through its first 10 games, vastly outpacing last season when it took them until their 21st game to finally get win number 5. Hunter is part of the young Hawks core that they are hoping to build around alongside Trae Young and Cam Reddish.
Young has already established himself as a legitimate force in the league, and on a path that Hunter would be smart to follow. This season has been promising that is the direction he is headed, whereas the start to Reddish’s second year hasn’t been quite as inspiring.
The blazing 4-1 start took not only the league by surprise, but also won a few Fantasy leaguers using a sports betting app on their smartphone, a nice bonus. Atlanta opened up 4-1 against the spread, until a bit of a slide over the last 5 games as people started to figure out that they aren’t the same team as last year. Even with a string of losses, the Hawks have established themselves as a respectable team, as opposed to last season when they were almost a sure win for good teams.
It’s safe to say at this point the second year DeAndre Hunter is finally living up to his high lottery pick expectations. As he gets more games and playing time his production will continue to increase, and his role on the team becomes even more important.
Story by Derek Saling