The Atlanta Hawks haven’t gotten off to the start to the 2021-22 season they hoped coming off a surprising trip to the conference finals this past summer. At 5-9, Atlanta has stumbled out of the gates as they’ve struggled to find the same rhythm from the second half of last season.
The good news is that the Hawks struggled early last season and eventually hit their stride at the right time to make a deep playoff run. The bad news is, suddenly there are some unfortunate similarities to last season in the form of the injury bug biting one of their key players. De’Andre Hunter suffered a wrist injury in a loss to the Warriors last Monday and, after playing 21 minutes on Friday against Denver, had an MRI that revealed a tendon injury that would require surgery and keep him out for two months.
An @emoryhealthcare injury update:
De’Andre Hunter suffered a right wrist injury during the game at GSW. An MRI taken yesterday revealed a tendon injury that will require surgery. Hunter will receive surgery tomorrow in LA.
He is expected to return in approximately 8 weeks. pic.twitter.com/gt6ZDrKbuX
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) November 15, 2021
It’s the second straight season the Hawks have seen Hunter suffer an early injury, as his meniscus derailed his season a year ago, ultimately requiring a second surgery that ended his season in the playoffs. This year, it’s a wrist that will sideline the Hawks’ top defensive wing and force the Hawks to turn to others to step up. In the postseason a year ago, Kevin Huerter became a hero in the Sixers series and earned himself a healthy extension, and one would expect Atlanta to lean heavily on him going forward, as well as more responsibility on Cam Reddish.
Hunter is not just a defensive ace, but has become one of their most reliable three-point threats (39.6 percent from deep this season) and his absence will be significant on both ends. They weathered that storm a year ago, but it’s not what Atlanta wanted to have to replicate again, particularly after stumbling early.