• Dalton Pence

Top Three NBA Landing Spots: DeAndre Hunter


Acc Basketball Report

This time last season, scouts and prospects would have projected Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter to land somewhere in the late first-round or early second-round of the NBA draft. Hunter opted to return to Charlottesville, and now his Cavaliers are headed to the Final Four. Betting on himself proved a wise decision.

As a sophomore, Hunter is averaging a team-high 15.1 points per game on 52.1 percent shooting. His five rebounds per contest ranks second on a balanced Virginia squad. Hunter has intriguing potential.

All signs point to Hunter being a typical 3 and D wing. The six-foot-seven forward excels on the defensive end, thanks in part to his length, quickness, and high-basketball IQ. His offensive leaps this year has him on many experts’ top-ten big boards and mock drafts for this spring’s NBA draft (Hunter is currently ranked as my seventh best prospect).

Here are the best landing spots for De’Andre Hunter:

Atlanta Hawks

With Trae Young serving as the offensive catalyst, the Hawks may have a tremendously bright future. Add in John Collins, Kevin Huerter, and Taurean Prince and the rebuild in Atlanta may be a quick one.

There may be concern regarding Hunter’s fit with the Hawks, but there are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration. Atlanta is projected to receive Dallas' first-rounder this year (likely top-10). They will need to address their big man need, but having two picks in the lottery grants them some additional flexibility.

Vince Carter is at the near-end of his career and Kent Bazemore is under contract until next year at the longest, assuming he exercises his player option this offseason. Drafting Hunter also allows Atlanta to keep Huerter in the backcourt alongside Young.

Offensively Hunter still needs some work, but he will be able to make an impact immediately on the defensive side of the court. And all the same, Hunter has hit 42.9 percent of his limited shots from deep this year in college. Even better, he won’t be relied on as a primary or even secondary source of scoring, allowing him to grow into his supporting-cast role.

Washington Wizards

The desired direction of the Washington franchise is very unclear, but with Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter Jr both getting dealt this season, the Wizards need a wing. Trevor Ariza, Sam Dekker, Jeff Green, and possibly Jabari Parker are all set to become free agents in July and it does not seem like any are a part of the organization’s long-term plans moving forward.

Like the situation in Atlanta, Washington does not need Hunter to be a substantial scorer right away. To play the devil’s advocate, Even with Bradley Beal as the team’s only bonafide scorer, the reality is that Washington needs all the help they can get. Grabbing a defensive wing with a growing offensive repertoire is a fine move for this Wizards team.

Often times, Hunter’s full impact on a game is not reflected by the stat sheet. His toughness, competitive edge, and court vision is unique for his size. Plus, the Wizards need to do what they can to maximize the primes of the careers of both Beal and John Wall.

New Orleans Pelicans

Perhaps the best fit for Hunter is in New Orleans. The Pelicans are openly in need of talent on the wing.Solomon Hill and Kenrich Williams are the only small forwards that will be on the payroll, as of right now.

Hunter’s 3-and-D potential makes this an easy selection for the Pels. The Anthony Davis saga is almost certain to continue in the offseason, but that shouldn’t affect this pick. Hunter addresses both their depth and perimeter shooting desires, while adding a toughness that Jrue Holiday possesses. Regardless, the franchise needs an identity moving forward and the sophomore’s versatility and ability to play multiple positions make this a sure-fire match.

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