FILE - In this Monday, June 24, 2019, file photo, Atlanta Hawks first-round NBA basketball draft pick Cam Reddish, out of Duke, holds his jersey as he poses with general manager Travis Schlenk, left, and head coach Lloyd Pierce during a news conference in Atlanta. As the Atlanta Hawks head into the third year of their massive overhaul, there are definite signs of hope, as the team prepares to open training camp with an intriguing core of young players.
Photo: AP Photo/John Bazemore, File
Photo: AP Photo/John Bazemore, File

Hawks rookies Reddish, Hunter and Fernando adapting to NBA

Three days after struggling to score in the Hawks’ loss to the Orlando Magic, rookie Cam Reddish came up with a big 3-pointer during a scrimmage in practice Saturday. 

Reddish, who missed all of summer league while recovering from core muscle surgery, is working to get his motor and timing back.  

“I’m definitely getting a lot more comfortable,” Reddish said. “Kind of finding myself a little more, especially in the scrimmages. My teammates are just encouraging me to play my game, be aggressive and just make the play I’m used to making. So I’m definitely getting more comfortable day by day.” 

Two exhibition games aren’t enough for rookies to master anything, but it’s been enough for Hawks rookies Reddish, De’Andre Hunter and Bruno Fernando to get their feet under them and start adapting to the NBA. 

For Reddish, who scored 11 points in Monday’s loss to the Pelicans, but was held to 1-for-7 from the field against the Magic (playing with a 15-minute cap in both games), his defensive efforts have stood out the most so far to coach Lloyd Pierce, who said Reddish isn’t ready to have the ball in his hands much yet, but is a good catch-and-shoot player right now. 

“I thought his defense has been great,” Pierce said. “He’s very active, not always in the right spot, but he can make up for it. That’s a skill in and of itself for the guys in this league. … He had five (missed) 3’s in the game, never really got in rhythm. We’ll be alright with him. I’m more encouraged with what he’s able to do defensively and how much ground he’s able to cover.” 

Fernando struggled in his debut vs. the Pelicans, tallying four points, three rebounds and four turnovers. But he looked much sharper Wednesday, pulling down six rebounds to go with five points (including a 3-pointer) and zero turnovers. 

“You know when you go to a new job your first day and you try to impress your boss, your coworkers and everybody?” Fernando said. “It’s kind of like you don’t want to allow yourself to make a mistake. I think that was what it was with me first game. As soon as I got on the court, it’s kind of like I tried to rush myself into everything, trying to be perfect, not allowing myself to make a mistake.” 

The biggest thing for Fernando, who has the potential to become a good passer, is to stay centered and communicate more. 

“Bruno’s doing well,” Pierce said. “He’s starting to talk, breathing when he’s on the court. He made a couple great passes today out of the pick-and-roll. John (Collins is) the guy you see finishing on the pick and roll, Bruno’s the guy you’re going to see passing. He’s got a really good ability to kick out.” 

As far as Hunter? 

As Pierce puts it, “De’Andre is De’Andre.” Hunter has looked the most comfortable and regular-season game-ready so far, and has shown he’s not just a 3-point shooter and defensive-minded player. He’s indicated he can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, with the build (6-foot-7, 225 pounds) to battle bigger defenders. 

Hunter has added 11.5 points per game (55.6% from the field), with 3.5 rebounds and two assists. 

“It’s just a matter of getting experience,” Hunter said. “From the first game, it’s your first time out there, my first time playing a game in a while, so just tried to be comfortable. Second game, you have a little bit more (comfort), you know the plays more, with what the team likes to run, so just overall you’re more comfortable.” 

The Hawks play their third exhibition game 7:30 p.m. Monday in Miami. The Hawks’ final two exhibition games will come Wednesday in New York and Thursday in Chicago before opening the regular season at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 in Detroit.

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