The Atlanta Hawks are a very respectable 3-2 to start the new campaign. After their 122-111 loss to the Washington Wizards, however, it may seem like the situation is worse than that. This is mainly because of the way this loss happened. Their defense had its failures, of course. But the Hawks let their frustration with the refereeing get the better of them.
After the game, Nate McMillan spoke about the team that had to drop this thing. Trae Young said, “There are a lot of missed calls… it’s frustrating”.
Young was one of the least affected by the league’s shooting foul adjustments, despite being one of the poster children for “unnatural moves” in the eyes of many. He’s averaging just 1.1 points less per game despite shooting about half as many free throws as he did last season.
One player who might struggle to adjust to the adjustments is Kevin Huerter.
Atlanta Hawks goalie Kevin Huerter went through some slump to start the new season
In the first five games of the season, Huerter is averaging 5.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. It shoots 29.7% from the ground and 11.1% beyond the arc. All this while seeing the fewest minutes per game of his career. More worryingly, it seems to be regressing.
After averaging 5.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the first two games, he amassed 14 points with 62.5% shots in the first time against the Detroit Pistons.
In his last two games, however, he’s averaged 1.0 points per game with 0.83% shots on the ground. He snagged a donut in the loss to the Wizards and went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc. It was his fourth game this season where he failed to connect on a triple – he hit his two threes in the season against Detroit.
This start was also the only game where he reached the free throw line.
The fact that he signed a four-year contract extension worth $ 65 million just before the season adds to the disappointment over the departure.
He’s already taken his turn to make the dud list in large part because greater expectations come with his new financial reality. Now, however, we’re already approaching a point where he could possibly fall behind Cam Reddish coming off the bench.
Reddish is averaging 16.2 points with 45.2% shots from the ground and 44.0% from the depths.
It may very well be that Huerter altered the ankle injury he treated at training camp. He was recording a minimum of 23.6 minutes per game before playing just over 14 minutes on Thursday.
Except that he averaged 12.3 points on 51.7% of shots in the preseason and knocked down 58.3% of his triples. He did so without making a single free throw attempt.
Whatever the reason, whether it’s due to an injury or a mechanic, the Hawks are in desperate need of Huerter to get by. It is still early. But with a date on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers also 3-2, everything will be on deck. Especially with a tough stretch ahead that includes a four-game trip to the West.
The last time these two met, Huerter lost 27 points with 55.6% shots. What better time to come out of a slump?