Trae Young is tough to miss because he was constantly on TV last year in college. Also, all of his games in the summer league were the topic of the following day. Although he didn’t get as much attention, Omari Spellman was still on the floor for most of those summer league games as well.
Huerter, meanwhile, was out with a hand injury during the team’s stint in Utah and Las Vegas. He’s been compared to Klay Thompson a lot and has been dubbed Kyle Korver’s replacement by others. There’s still a level of unknown with the other rookie coming in for Atlanta this season. So here’s an on-the-surface look at who exactly Huerter is.
Huerter is a 6-foot-7 shooting assassin.
He has great range and gets into his shot in about a second from the time he catches the ball until the time he lets it fly.
He, like Young, isn’t afraid to pull the trigger, which has been a problem with some of the more recent Hawks’ teams.
When he gets hot, he gets hot.
Huerter read the floor well and makes excellent cross-court passes. That is in addition to his ability to dump off passes in traffic and in the paint. He will toss the occasional lob, which is more good news for Spellman and Collins.
The rookie drives well to the basket and seems to have a decent handle on the ball getting there.
When Huerter doesn’t automatically have the best shot option, he’ll take a second to survey the floor. He will give the ball back to his point guard and reset his mindset for the offensive possession. He was second in the Big Ten in Effective Field Goal Percentage. He shoot 62 percent in the category. He placed ahead of now Los Angeles Lakers rookie Moritz Wagner. He was a spot behind former Purdue 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas, whose offensive arsenal is limited to the paint.
If a play breaks down, Huerter’s not bound to the 3-point line and will quickly come to the ball to help and get a shot off before the shot clock buzzer.
Huerter is also on the receiving end of alley-oops when he catches the defense sleeping. The former standout shortstop and pitcher has an amount of athleticism that soars beyond the typical specialist like Korver.
Huerter wasn’t known as an elite defender on the college level but he definitely doesn’t have the reputation of being a liability on that end of the floor.
He is a solid defender who uses his size and speed to recover while defending. He impressed NBA teams at this year’s combine with his quick shuttle time. That was one of the reasons why he decided to stay in this year’s draft after testing the waters.
In a game against Georgetown, a Hoya drove past one Maryland teammate in transition with five seconds remaining. He was met by Huerter at the rim, who secured the game-winning block with 1.6 seconds on the clock.
Huerter is listed at 194 pounds, which will obviously have to change at 6-foot-7. Korver and Thompson, who are listed at the same height, weigh 212 and 215 pounds, for reference.
He needs to improve his footwork when pivoting on offense as well as tighten his handle. He averaged 2.5 turnovers last season and 1.9 turnovers in his two-year Maryland career as a shooting guard. Thompson, who is probably the more fit comparison because of Huerter’s ability to drive and put the ball on the floor, never averaged more than 1.9 turnovers in a season with Golden State. Thompson did, however, average 3.4 turnovers a game his last two seasons at Washington State.
If everything goes according to plan, Huerter should emerge as one of the Hawks’ key players in future runs in the Eastern Conference. Will he be as explosive of a scorer as the man who dropped 60 points in three quarters? No, but he can ultimately be a guy who averages 15 to 20 points a night in a back court with Young. Playing with 21-year NBA veteran Vince Carter should help him tremendously seeing how much poise and patience he plays with on the floor.
If the Hawks are as good as they’re supposed to be in five years, expect Huerter to sneak in an All-Star Game or two as well. All hail Red Mamba, Jr.