Hawks coach Nate McMillan believes De’Andre Hunter, when healthy, is one of the better players in the NBA at combining strong play on offense and defense.
“You don’t find many (good) two-way players in this league, and Dre is one of them,” McMillan said Thursday night after the Hawks played their final exhibition game, a 127-92 victory against the Heat. “He’s going to defend just as hard as he’s going to look to score. He plays the game the right way. He’s unselfish. Tonight, Dre was just running the floor and making plays. I thought (he) did a good job of finding guys tonight.”
Hunter scored 19 points Thursday, second on the team behind guard Trae Young. He also had three rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes.
Young is glad to see Hunter back on the floor after injuries cost him most of last season.
“It’s big-time,” Young said. “Getting Dre back is going to be big for us. He is a good defender and scorer. He can pretty much do it all. Anytime he’s on the court, he just makes our team better.”
Finding a strong two-way player is not common in the NBA. For Hunter, he strives to be the best at it while letting his defense dictate his offense.
“I’m a competitor,” Hunter said. “I don’t like them scoring on me. I feel like once you stop a person, that kind of takes the air out of what they’re trying to do. If I can be disruptive on defense, I know my offensive game will take care of itself.”
Hunter and the Hawks are preparing for their season opener against the Mavericks on Thursday at State Farm Arena.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com