“I think it says a lot about both De’Andre and the organization,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “You know, they feel comfortable with his potential. They’re committed to the future of this team and now, Dre has decided to accept that.
“He’s really happy with it, and now we can move forward. Anytime you can get that done before the season starts, it should allow that player to now put that in the back of his mind. He has his deal done, and now he can go out and do his job. So happy that everything got taken care of before the start of the season.”
Last season, Hunter averaged 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 29.8 minutes. He shot 44.2% from the floor and knocked down 37.9% of his 3-point attempts. He scored 20 or more points in 11 appearances, while picking up double-doubles 14 consecutive games from March 3-20, the second-longest such streak of his career.
Before Tuesday’s extension, Hunter said that he left all the negotiating to his agents. With the stress of the extension behind him, Hunter said he felt relieved that now he can continue focusing on the game.
“I mean, it’s gonna be my home for the next four or five years, whatever,” Hunter said. “Like I said, I’m just grateful, thankful that they gave me the opportunity, that they have so much faith in me as a player, just trying to work my butt off and do what I need to do to become a better player for the team.”
Hunter already has shared that during the offseason, he worked on his ball-handling skills to continue diversifying his game. In exhibition games, Hunter made 43.8% of his unassisted shots from inside and has promised himself not to get complacent after getting his extension.
The former Virginia Cavalier has been one of the last players to leave the gym following practices and shootarounds because he does not want to stop improving.
“I mean, for me, it’s just always be better than last year,” Hunter said. “We had a solid year last year, but just want to be better. And I want to continue to get better. Just maximize my ability. So whatever that is, that’s my biggest thing.”
The Hawks are excited to have Hunter for the foreseeable future. The team now has four of its starting five players locked into deals through the 2024-25 season. So there’s plenty of excitement when it comes to being able to build toward something.
“Just looking to build something special, looking to win a championship,” Hunter said. “That’s everyone’s goal this year, and for years to come. Just keep putting in the work, like you said, with those four guys locked in we know we’re gonna have, so time to get the work that’s all.”
So with the Hawks’ NBA season opening Wednesday, Hunter and his teammates are optimistic for what’s to come.
“Yeah, we’re very optimistic,” Hunter said. “But we’re ready. Coach has gotten us ready through practice, through film and as a team, we’re just ready to compete against someone else. You know, preseason is fun to compete, but it doesn’t really count for anything. But now that it counts is a whole ‘nother level. So we’re really excited as a group.”