Injuries have left the Atlanta Hawks shorthanded for much of the season, and unfortunately that isn’t going to change anytime soon. On Sunday, the team announced that second-year forward De’Andre Hunter will undergo surgery on his meniscus and be out indefinitely. An update on Hunter’s status is expected in two weeks.
Back on Jan. 29, Hunter left the Hawks’ win over the Washington Wizards with what was described as knee discomfort, and a subsequent MRI revealed “articular wear and tear” on his knee. The Hawks announced he would undergo a non-surgical procedure and be out for at least a week, but that obviously didn’t do enough to correct that issue, and so they had to go the surgical route.
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Hunter had a somewhat disappointing rookie season, but was showing plenty of improvement prior to his injury. His numbers were up across the board despite no increase in playing time — 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on efficient shooting splits — and he was taking on a major role on the defensive end of the floor.
Back in December, ahead of the start of the season he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “My confidence is really high. I put a lot of work in this offseason, whatever you call it, but I’m just really confident in my game.” Hopefully that belief won’t be shaken by this setback, because the hard work was paying off and he was establishing himself as a really promising wing in this league.
If there’s one silver lining for the Hawks, it’s that they’re pretty deep on the wing, and between Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill, Tony Snell and Danilo Gallinari, they have plenty of guys who can step up in Hunter’s absence. Still, this is a big blow, not only for their hopes this season, but for Hunter’s development.