De’Andre Hunter is one of the top NBA draft prospects in the Final Four. Hunter averaged 14.9 points , five rebounds and two assists this season at Virginia.
Heavy has Hunter going No. 6 to the Grizzlies in our latest NBA mock draft. ESPN has Hunter going No. 5 to the Hawks in its mock draft. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has Hunter slotted at No. 4 to the Bulls. These words from Virginia head coach Tony Bennett regarding Hunter being able to guard positions one through four are music to NBA front office’s ears.
“De’Andre’s had a heck of a year,” Bennett told The Washington Post. “Defensively at times we’ve used him to guard ones, twos, threes and fours, and that can be helpful. Offensively we’ve used De’Andre some on the perimeter and some as kind of a stretch four, and he’s been able at times to manufacture some shots. Those things I think are really important when you have to account for him on the offensive end. At 6-7 or 6-8 with the long wingspan, just his dimensions are good, so just a high quality player obviously.”
Here is my breakdown of Hunter’s NBA outlook.
De’Andre Hunter’s NBA Draft Profile
STRENGTHS: Hunter’s appeal lies in what he could become, not necessarily the player he is now. Hunter is 6’8″ with a 7’2″ wingspan that will allow him to guard multiple positions in the NBA. Hunter also has a lot of position versatility offensively as well with the ability to play on the perimeter as well as down low as a stretch-four, at times.
Hunter’s three-point shooting is up more than four percent this season as the Virginia guard is shooting 42.4 percent from the three-point line on more attempts. Having seen Hunter during practice plus the first two games of March Madness, his shot looks good and could be lethal if he becomes more consistent.
WEAKNESSES: Hunter’s game is still a work in progress. When you think of him as a potential top-five pick, he leaves you wanting more. Hunter has only scored more than 11 points once in the NCAA Tournament. Hunter has the talent to take over games, but he does not display this alpha mentality as often as you would like for a player of his caliber.
It is hard to tell if this is a product of a Virginia system that is not necessarily conducive to players putting up big numbers, or an inditement on Hunter’s game itself. Hunter’s feel for the game is also lacking at times.
It is hard to imagine Hunter being a bust, but it is also easy to envision him more as a “glue guy” than a star. NBA teams will have to decide if they can risk taking Hunter with a top-10 pick given his ceiling is somewhat of a question mark. Hunter is 21 years old which puts him a full two years older than some of the other top NBA prospects.
SUMMARY: Hunter reminds me of watching Jonathan Isaac at Florida State. Their games are a bit different but share similar traits. Like Isaac, Hunter seems like an amazing teammate. They both make defense a staple of their game and have the ability to knock down the outside shot. Both have (had in Isaac’s case) the ability to take over games more than they do.
While I am not sure Hunter will be a go-to player at the next level, it is hard to imagine his skill set not working in the NBA. Hunter has the size, athleticism, defensive ability and shooting touch that should allow him to thrive at the next level. Hunter is a top-10 pick with potential to land inside the top five.