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With Hunter and Reddish, Atlanta is loaded with young talent.
ATLANTA – To be early, is to be on time.
That was the sentiment for the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday as they got the party started on draft night before it even started. Ninety minutes before the 2019 NBA Draft officially began, the Hawks sent the 8th, 17th, and 35 picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for the No. 4 pick.
Just days ago the Hawks had six total picks, including three in the top 20, but were down to only two before Zion Williamson’s name was called as the No. 1 pick, becoming the tenth straight freshmen selected first overall in the NBA Draft. And although the Hawks were only left with a couple of selections, they had two lottery picks, tying the Pelicans who also had a pair.
The Lakers drafted De’Andre Hunter (Virginia) at No. 4 for the Hawks, giving Atlanta a lockdown defender who is also a capable scorer. And with the 10thpick, Atlanta went with freshman Cam Reddish (Duke) giving them a wing that checks all in the boxes when it comes to an NBA prospect.
With the additions of Hunter and Reddish, the Hawks have a very talented and young group in their locker room with a potential starting five of Trae Young (20 years old), Kevin Huerter (20 years old), Hunter (21 years old), Reddish (19 years old), and John Collins (21 years old).
“You saw it this year, we want to play fast, an up-and-down game. We want to space the floor and have multiple guys out on the floor that can make plays,” said Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk. “So, we’re looking to add multi-dimensional players. Guys that can play multiple positions and players with great length, and guys that can play some defense on the wing.”
Due to all the potential trades and ensuing free agency, Schlenk wasn’t able to comment on Hunter and could only discuss Reddish by name on Thursday night.
“I don’t want to make excuses for him, but I know he played with some injuries this year,” explained Schlenk when asked if he was worried about Reddish’s streaky 33% from deep last season at Duke. “Listen, guys go through streaks. We have a ton of confidence in his ability to shoot the ball and we think with more reps he’s going to get better.”
Schlenk wasn’t the only one unconcerned about Reddish’s ability, as Young took to Twitter to celebrated the pick.
“LETSSSSS GOOOOOOOO!!! Welcome To The Fam @camreddish !! Let’s Work?❄️,” wrote Young.
At 6’8”, Reddish is the prototypical NBA wing that can play and defend multiple positions. With his background as a point guard in high school, it’s plausible that he could play 1-4 in the league, giving Young an opportunity to play off the ball at times.
And while Reddish may be looked at as the offensive pick for the Hawks, then Hunter was drafted for his defense. The sophomore was named the ACC and National Defensive Player of the Year last season. The Hawks currently don’t have a single player under contract for next season that was ranked in the top 150 in ESPN’s defensive plus-minus last season. At 6’8” and 227 pounds, Hunter’s ability to move his feet along with his 7-2 wingspan made him a big reason why Virginia’s defense was dominant last season on their way to a national championship.
Coming into Thursday night, many wondered what the Hawks were going to do without all of their picks. And an hour into the night, we had our answer, as Schlenk used them to get exactly what his team needed most: perimeter defense and another scorer and ball handler on the wing.
Last year at this time, people were looking at the Hawks sideways for trading Luka Doncic. Well, a year later that trade turned into Young and Reddish.
“We’re really excited about our draft, and we’ll be even more excited about it on July 6th,” Schlenk said with a smile.
In two weeks, the trade for Hunter will be official as free agency will have already began. And while fans in New Orleans and New York may have cheered the loudest after drafting Williamson (Pelicans) and RJ Barrett (Knicks), Reddish’s teammates at Duke, Hawks fans slept well on Thursday night knowing that their team walked away as the night’s biggest winner.