Hawks land Virginia’s Hunter, Duke’s Reddish in NBA draft
The Atlanta Hawks pulled off another blockbuster deal on NBA draft night to get the player they wanted.
Then, they landed another with the remnants of last year’s big trade.
The rebuilding Hawks added to their impressive young core by selecting wingman De’Andre Hunter from national champion Virginia on Thursday with the No. 4 pick, which was acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans shortly before the draft began.
Less than an hour later, they grabbed Duke guard Cam Reddish at No. 10 — using the selection they got from Dallas in last year’s Trae Young-for-Luka Doncic trade.
“We’re really excited with the way it played out for us,” general manager Travis Schlenk said.
The fourth pick was technically made by the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Anthony Davis trade, but Hunter will wind up with the Hawks after their deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. To move up, Atlanta surrendered the No. 8, No. 17 and No. 35 picks, along with a protected first-round choice from Cleveland in 2020 that belonged to Atlanta. The trade was confirmed by a person familiar with the deal but can’t be finalized until the NBA’s new year begins on July 6.
The Hawks also got the No. 57 selection, a future second-round pick and forward Solomon Hill from the Pelicans. Turns out, they weren’t done dealing, packaging the 57th pick and two future second-round picks to land 6-10 center Bruno Fernando of Maryland with Philadelphia’s pick at No. 34. Like the trade for Hunter, the deal won’t become official until July 6.
Atlanta targeted 6-foot-7, 225-pound Hunter as the seemingly perfect fit on a team that already has two of the league’s rising stars: Trae Young at point guard and big man John Collins.
“YESSSSIRRRR!!!” Young tweeted. “Let’s Work.”
Hunter was wearing a Lakers cap at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the draft was held, but he knew Atlanta was his actual destination.
“When I went there (for a workout), they had a pretty strong feeling about me,” he said. “I knew that was the place I wanted to be. That was one of my destinations. I’m happy they traded up and got that pick.”
Hunter was wearing a picture of his father, who died when De’Andre was just 7 years old.
“He’s here watching over me,” Hunter said.
The 6-8, 208-pound Reddish is cut from the same mold as Hunter, but he’s coming off an uneven freshman year with the Blue Devils. Reddish arrived in Durham as a top-five recruit but was only the third option behind teammates Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, both of whom went ahead of him in the draft.
“I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder to come in and prove myself,” Reddish said.
With his inside-out ability and 7-2 wingspan, Hunter led the Cavaliers to their first national championship as a redshirt sophomore, most notably hitting the overtime-forcing 3-pointer in the victory over Texas Tech in the title game. He was the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year and picked up the national defensive award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Hunter isn’t as flashy as others in the draft and, if anything, he needs to be more assertive. There were times when he blended into the background with his unselfish play and an offensive game that still needs a bit of refining.
But he averaged 15.2 points on 52% shooting and hit nearly 44% of his attempts beyond the arc, just what the Hawks are looking for on a team that Schlenk hopes to build in the mold of the Golden State Warriors.
Hunter’s biggest selling point: Virginia won 66 of 71 games over two seasons with him in the lineup and lost the only game without him — that shocker against No. 16-seed UMBC in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Reddish is a stellar athlete with the potential to be a long-range shooter and lockdown defender with his 7-foot wingspan. But he struggled offensively at Duke (35.6% shooting overall, 33.3% on 3-pointers) and was a surprise late scratch against Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 with a left knee injury.
He also had a minor procedure for a nagging core muscle injury and won’t be able to play in the summer league, according to Schlenk, but should be ready to go when training camp begins.
“We had him ranked higher than (No. 10) on our board,” the general manager said. “We rolled the dice and won.”
The additions of Hunter and Reddish might propel the 29-win Hawks to the fringe of playoff contention next season, but they’ll get a chance to take their overhaul to another level in 2020.
Schlenk has been acquiring over-priced players that other teams wanted to get off the books, including Hill ($12.8 million in 2019-20), Miles Plumlee ($12.5 million) and Allen Crabbe ($18.5 million). The Hawks also have Kent Bazemore, who will make $19.3 million next season.
All four of those players come off the books a year from now, freeing up $63.1 million to spend in free agency.