After playing the best basketball of his career, certainly the most consistent Hawks player at that point in the season, Hunter had to put basketball on pause. He had become a player who could both find his own shot and defend well, two categories in which the Hawks needed a boost. In 18 games this season, Hunter averaged 17.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 32.2 minutes per game.
He simply “felt like himself” out there, Hunter said, and he’s hoping he can get back to that soon.
“I’m really excited,” Hunter said. “Even coming on this trip is a step for me. I wasn’t traveling, I wasn’t doing much. So just coming on this trip was big for me and like I said, being able to play, or being able to play pretty soon feels good. Rehab is tough, it’s not the most fun thing, so being able to go through it and being able to play after that is always fun, so just looking forward to that.”
Though the Hawks have missed Hunter in many ways, they’ve managed to put together an eight-game win streak under interim coach Nate McMillan. Since he’s been watching from the bench, Hunter has had a unique perspective on the team’s recent success, which he attributes to the team being more connected.
“I think we’re playing with a lot more energy,” Hunter said. “Guys are really connected right now on the defensive end and offensive end. I think we’re playing for each other. I feel like that’s the biggest thing, playing for each other and getting on a string and listening to what coach wants us to do and trying to execute his plan the best we can.”