NBA All-Star festivities arrive on March 7 in Atlanta, with the league pivoting what is normally a full-weekend event into a single day at State Farm Arena. As part of that package, the All-Star Game itself will take place, with the Three-Point Contest and Skills Challenge at the beginning of the evening and the Slam Dunk Contest during halftime of the big game. However, the annual Rising Stars event will not take place, and the NBA indicated that decision was made “due to the limitation of having All-Star events all in one night.” Still, the league did make plans to announce a pair of 10-man rosters — one for the U.S. Team and one for the World Team — and Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter made the cut.
The 20 players selected were voted on by NBA assistant coaches, who were given the chance to submit a ballot of four frontcourt players, four guards and two wild cards, and the coaches were instructed to select at least three rookies and at least three sophomores for each squad. In the end, Hunter was the only representative for the Hawks, with eligible players like Cam Reddish, Bruno Fernando, Skylar Mays and Onyeka Okongwu falling short.
Hunter, who was the No. 4 selection in the 2019 NBA Draft, suffered a right knee injury on Jan. 29 and underwent surgery a few days later. The 6’8 forward was experiencing a breakout prior to the injury, however, as Hunter averaged 17.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in 18 contests.
On top of increased counting statistics, Hunter boasts a 64.0 percent true shooting mark that includes 60.9 percent on two-point attempts, 36.6 percent on three-point attempts and 87.7 percent on free throw attempts. For good measure, the former Virginia forward also made strides on the defensive end, and the Hawks have been notably better with him on the court (+5.3 points per 100 possessions) than when he sits.
It remains to be seen as to when Hunter will return to game action, and Atlanta-based observers are certainly holding their breath for that day to arrive. Beyond that, this is a nice honor to reward his progress from early in the season, and Hunter continues to be a key piece of the organization for both the present and the future.