In advance of the 2018-2019 NBA season, the Peachtree Hoops crew will preview each player on the current roster. The eleventh breakdown takes a glance at rookie wing Kevin Huerter.
Kevin Huerter is one of the names from the 2018 NBA Draft that has flown under the radar up to this point. It’s also fair to guess that much of the Atlanta Hawks fan base also doesn’t have a great grasp on just how Huerter fits in with the team, since he hasn’t played at all publicly since his final season at Maryland. The comparisons to Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver and other elite catch-and-shoot artists are understood, but seemingly don’t do Huerter justice since his game is more unique than just the label of a “good shooter.”
First off, the expectations for Huerter will probably be unreasonably high since he was a top 20 pick, but the thing everyone must remember is that the jump from college to the NBA is hard enough when healthy. Huerter has not been entirely healthy (although the Hawks expect him to be ready for camp) and was unable to compete in the Summer League along with being unable to use his shooting hand for a while post-surgery.
That alone is a major setback for Huerter, who may not see regular rotation minutes for an extended time now and will take longer to get back to being 100 percent health. So, if Huerter opens the season on a minute’s restriction or if his shot is not great from day on,e then there is no reason to worry. Rookies are largely ineffective in the NBA anyways, so this is a good year for Huerter to focus on his health while improving his game.
Everyone loves to use the Klay Thompson (Huerter) and Steph Curry (Young) comparisons for Travis Schlenk’s second draft with the Hawks, and while those may be fun to think about they simply are inaccurate. While Huerter is a good shooter, his NBA game will probably differ from Thompson’s in a couple of ways.
First, he will probably be asked to facilitate more than than Thompson currently does. Huerter was a good passer in college (3.4 assists last season) and shows an advanced ability to see over the defense. The fact that he is a threat from beyond the arc only helps the thought that he will be asked to make the extra pass and get his teammates involved while possibly taking his defender off the dribble.
Comparisons are such an unnecessary burden to put on young players and Huerter is a guy that shouldn’t have to live up to being called the next Klay Thompson from day one.
What is a good year for Kevin Huerter? He comes in and shows that he can defend NBA forwards and looks as good defending the perimeter as he did at Maryland. Huerter has taken a lot of criticism for his lack of defensive skills, but really, he wasn’t all that bad in college. He has a large frame and good athletic ability that should allow him to be successful if he were to put effort into it.
A perfect scenario is that Huerter shows he can be on the floor with Young at the same time and they begin to build some chemistry going into next season when the Hawks could look to add another top five pick to the lineup. Huerter is going to be decent offensively, but if he shows he can be successful on defense then it makes this pick look a million times better for Schlenk and company.
Huerter’s health should be priority number one for a Hawks team that isn’t expected to contend this season. This seems like another great talent evaluation by the front office and as the adage goes “you can never have too many wings.” This will be an interesting first run for Huerter who has every tool to be successful in the NBA if he can put it all together.