On Sept. 30, just one week before the team embarks on their first preseason game against the newly constructed New Orleans Pelicans, the Hawks held media day at their practice facility.
Among all the questions asked and wacky answers thrown back at the reporters, there was one quote that remained present after all the cameras stopped.
Possible starting center for the Atlanta Hawks Alex Len was asked about De’Andre Hunter, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner provided the remarkable answer:
That’s lofty praise for a rookie that has yet to dribble a basketball on an NBA court. Kawhi Leonard, reigning NBA Finals MVP, is not a small name to scoff at.
Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship in team history, then made a league-shifting move to suit up for the Los Angeles Clippers for the upcoming season. He will team up with Paul George, another elite player in the NBA.
But why the comparison?
Hunter has garnered the comparison in the latter half of his time at the University of Virginia, where he won a national title in 2019. He possessed a defensive intelligence like no other player in college basketball, which was performed regularly during his two seasons at UVA.
Your best offensive player; he will check him.
Len is probably trying to build the confidence of the young rookie, so that Hunter will have a really good first season in the NBA. Just have to hope that Len’s statement holds true.
Hunter will produce in year one, but to believe he will come out the gates as an All-NBA level player is just not plausible. Draft experts and critics alike will bank on the upside, as there’s not much Hunter has that he does tremendously horrible.
He is spry as a basketball player and has a hand in pretty much everything.
Leonard does too.
Photo courtesy of bellyupsports.com