The Atlanta Hawks currently have three rookies on their roster: De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bruno Fernando. Hunter and Reddish have started all five games thus far and Fernando has been filling a back-up big man role for about 10-minutes a night. All three players are expected to play big roles in the Hawks future. So how have they looked so far?
Hunter has started every game at the small forward position and the Hawks view him as their long-term 3-and-D option. He has only been shooting 25% from down-town and 50% from two, resulting in a 45% effective field goal percentage. That is significantly below league average but his 73% free throw percentage and his track record in college suggest that will improve over time.
Hunter was not expected to be much more than a spot up shooter in the NBA. He has already flashed more pick and roll ball-handling than expected. He has been able to get off quality mid-range attempts and good looks at the basket. Though the shots have not been falling, I would expect his efficiency to rise over the course of the season.
Hunter has been about what was expected on the defensive side of the court. The Hawks match him up with the opposing team’s best wing threat and he has held his own. At times he has been a step or two behind, but he has shown the potential to be a perimeter stopper.
Cam Reddish is one of the most polarizing prospects in the league. Some people think he has Paul George like potential due to his ball handling and secondary-playmaking, while others think his best case is a 3-and-D and that’s only if his jumper can come around. He has flashed a small amount of creating, but his shooting has been atrocious even though the jumper is so smooth despite it not falling, and when he’s not lost he has looked like a good defender.
Reddish is shooting 32% from two and 6% from three, resulting in an effective field goal percentage of 22%. That is very bad. It is not the end of the world though. His release on his jumper still looks smooth and effortless. Once he gets a little more experienced and the game slows down, I’m confident those numbers will increase.
Reddish has also flashed a little ball-handling; he started at point guard the game Trae Young missed. He has run some pick and roll that has resulted in made shots, as well as some where he made the right read but he or his teammate did not make the shot. He is averaging 3.1 assists per 36 minutes. Assuming some natural progression throughout his rookie year and that number will be very impressive; especially considering he plays with a ball dominant point guard in Trae Young.
Reddish is still looking like he’s a few years away, but he looks like he will become a quality NBA player.
Bruno Fernando has by far been the most efficient of the three. He is shooting 69% on twos and 40% on threes, resulting in an effective field goal percentage of 67%. That puts him in elite territory. He has been very good at playing his role as a backup four and five man. Fernando has been finishing around the rim successfully and has shot the three efficiently (on a low volume). If the volume can increase on his long-range shot and he can keep close to the same efficiency it would be a real weapon.
On defense Fernando has looked a little lost at times. He is an elite athlete and has great size, he just appears to be a step-behind for now. With his elite size and athleticism, he just needs a little more experience to start approaching passable levels. I would expect this to come around over the next few years.