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Hawks’ Hunter to be slowed at start of training camp as he comes off knee surgery

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks - Game One

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Atlanta Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter celebrates a three-point basket during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks on May 23, 2021 in New York City. The Hawks defeated the Knicks 107-105. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Seth Wenig - Pool/Getty Images)

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De’Andre Hunter’s growth in his second season and his two-way play is one of the key reasons Hawks optimists think this team can take a step forward off its impressive playoff run. He can be an X-factor for this team.

But Hunter will be slowed at the start of the season, GM Travis Schlenk told reporters last Friday. From Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

De’Andre Hunter, who struggled with knee issues last year, won’t be a full participant and will be eased back in. He’s been playing 1-on-1, and the Hawks expect him to be 100% ready by the season’s start. Hunter had an MRI taken before the first game of the Hawks’ playoff series with Philadelphia, which revealed a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, and had surgery in June.

After what can only be described as a dreadful rookie season, Hunter looked much better in the 23 games he was healthy enough to play in last season in Atlanta. He averaged 15 points a game with a 60.3 true shooting percentage, plus he is a quality wing defender.

If Hunter can make another leap in his third season, he can fill a critical role for the Hawks as they look to show last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals was no fluke. Something that will be tough to do in a deeper and more dangerous East this season.