On Sunday night in Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter showed why the team invested in him with the 19th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Scoring a team-high 27 points, the former Maryland Terrapin played a crucial role in helping Atlanta upset the No. 1 seed in the conference and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
For Huerter, it's a rise to NBA prominence that blossomed beginning at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine. While he may have been on the radar of some teams after two strong seasons at Maryland, it was at the Barclays Center in New York that the guard saw his stock really rise.
NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller was there and had noted that Huerter could have been a good fit for the Wizards. Watching him perform, it was clear that he belonged with the top prospects.
“When he played five-on-five against Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, he blended right in," Miller said.
DiVincenzo was coming off a 31-point performance in the National Championship Game, yet Huerter had no problem keeping up with him. His scoring, passing, defense and ability to help command a unit on the floor were on full display. During both individual drills and scrimmages, he was one of the hottest shooters on the court.
More than that, though, it was his confidence that was appealing as well. Huerter was coming off his sophomore season at Maryland in which he averaged 14.8 points per game while handling a much larger workload. That experience of playing in a tough conference at a high level took away the pressure of the combine.
Instead, he just went out there and played the way he knew he could.
“For me, to kind of had a lot on my shoulders this year., I was used to that. I played like that every single game, played against the best obviously playing in the Big Ten," Huerter said back in 2018. "And so, when you come into this type of environment, you’ve played against most of these guys so you have the ultimate confidence.”
That mindset and his work on the court were enough for Huerter to grab the attention of the Hawks, who made him a first-round selection. Fast forward nearly three years, and his performance on Sunday was an example of the impact he can make.