Members of the Atlanta Hawks continue participating in the team’s offseason mini-camp this week and, along the way, core members of the organization are speaking to the media. On Monday, it was Kevin Huerter’s turn, with the young shooting guard addressing a number of topics.
Though Huerter has appeared in 131 of 149 possible games in a Hawks uniform across two seasons, he has battled nagging injuries at times. Huerter missed a significant portion of the 2019 off-season, contributing to a slow start to his sophomore campaign. While he was beginning to round into form, the 22-year-old then was forced into an 11-game absence in November after suffering a rotator cuff injury in Denver.
With that as the backdrop, Huerter revealed that, while his knees are feeling better after previous issues, he actually suffered an ankle sprain earlier in the offseason.
“The knees have been great,” Huerter said. “The diet that I’m on, the strength training, the rehab type of stuff that we’ve been doing has been great. I haven’t felt that in a long time, knock on wood, doing that every day. I sprained my ankle pretty good, over a month ago, so there is some stuff this week that I have been limited on, but I’ve been able to participate in mostly everything we’re doing. Health-wise, there is nothing I expect that is going to be problematic moving forward right now. Obviously, we don’t know when we’re going to be playing yet, training-camp wise, but overall, I feel really good. Body is great.”
Later, Huerter was prompted to discuss the injury further and he explained it was the left ankle.
“Yeah, left ankle. It was within a workout,” said Huerter. “It’s going to be fine. It’s not something I’m worried about moving forward. I’m in the end stages of it. Just been limited a little bit this week with some of the full court stuff. Probably not staying in as long as I would have in previous times, but it’s not something I see as a problem moving forward.”
Dating back to early March, head coach Lloyd Pierce hasn’t been shy about discussing the playoffs for the 2020-21 campaign. While next season will have a delayed start, Huerter didn’t back away from that goal, saying it is actually the “whole focus” of the team.
“I think we’re finally allowed to say publicly, I know Lloyd (Pierce) said it, but our whole focus, as a team, is making the playoffs,” Huerter said. “We looked at definitely some of the teams that were in it from the Eastern Conference this year and I know there’s definitely teams that we think we can jump ahead of going into next year. We’re trying to make the playoffs. That’s really kinda the main focus for us.”
Overall, it certainly wasn’t a surprise to hear a core piece talking about the playoffs but, with a positive tone set up and down the organization during the team’s mini-camp, it is noteworthy to take away a clear and plain goal to reach the postseason in 2021.
“It’s something we’ve talked about, even at the beginning of this training camp,” Huerter said. “A lot of individual stats and individual accolades have to be put aside, and we have to really try to come together as a team. For the most part, we felt like, even though the last three years have been a growing process, a rebuild, whatever you want to call it, we felt in some areas we’ve underachieved... we want to change that around and we want to make the playoffs.”