2019 NBA Draft Profile: De'Andre Hunter
Vitals: 6-7, 225 pounds, small forward/power forward
Birthdate: Dec. 2, 1997
College: Virginia (2 years)
Stats: 15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, 52.0% FG, 78.3% FT, 43.8% three-point
NBA.com consensus mock draft: Fifth pick to Cleveland
Stock watch: Shuffling among top-half lottery prospects
With no widespread agreement on who’s the best choice among players like Hunter, Jarrett Culver and Darius Garland, it’s possible teams selecting after picks 1-3 could use positional need as a tiebreaker. Hunter made a significant jump in his sophomore year, going from zero starts to 38 and bumping his scoring average from 9.2 to 15.2, despite Virginia’s slow pace, which can deflate individual stats.
Few college players entering the NBA are immediately ready to excel defensively individually and team-wise, but draft experts believe Hunter can be that type of presence in Year 1. According to NBA.com, “(The) ACC Defensive Player of the Year will step in and help any team on defensive end, but (Hunter’s) potential will depend on how he develops his offensive game.” ESPN.com: “Arguably the best defender in college basketball. Often tasked with guarding the other team’s best player, be it a point guard or power forward. Has impressive technique containing opposing ball handlers off the dribble, as well as switching onto big men inside the paint with his strong frame and terrific physicality. Extremely active and aware off the ball.”
Areas of improvement
A generation ago, the vast majority of NBA draft picks were in their 20s age-wise, so this can be hard to believe at times, but one question mark about Hunter seems to be that he’s already a relatively “ancient” 21. “Second-oldest player projected to be picked in the top 20,” ESPN.com noted. “Does he have enough long-term upside to warrant being a top-five pick considering his age and limitations with athleticism and scoring?” Speaking of upside, Hunter is not expected to be a dynamic scorer at the NBA level. “He can shoot the NBA three-point shot but he has limited attempts and he isn’t a shoot-first type player,” NBADraft.net assessed. Hunter made less than one trey per game in college.