By PAUL NEWBERRY
ATLANTA (AP) — After pulling off another trade, the Atlanta Hawks added to their impressive young core by selecting wingman De’Andre Hunter from national champion Virginia with the No. 4 pick of the NBA draft on Thursday night. A short time later, they picked up Duke guard Cam Reddish at No. 10.
The selection of Hunter was technically made by the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Anthony Davis trade, but Hunter will wind up with the Hawks after their deal with the New Orleans Pelicans just before the start of the draft.
The Hawks got the fourth choice from the Pelicans in exchange for the No. 8, No. 17 and No. 35 picks, along with a protected first-round pick from Cleveland in 2020 that belonged to Atlanta. The trade was confirmed by a person familiar with the deal but can’t be finalized until the NBA’s new year begins on July 6.
Atlanta targeted 6-foot-7, 225-pound Hunter as the seemingly perfect fit on a team that already has two of the league’s rising stars: Trae Young at point guard and John Collins on the inside.
Hunter was wearing a Lakers cap at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the draft was held. But he knew that Atlanta was his actual destination.
The Hawks, in fact, were the only team that Hunter worked out for individually before the draft.
“When I went there, they had a pretty strong feeling about me,” he said. “I knew that was the place I wanted to be. That was one of my destinations. I’m happy they traded up and got that pick.”
Hunter was wearing a picture of his father, who died when De’Andre was just 7 years old.
“I wanted him to be here with me,” Hunter said. “He got drafted like I got drafted. He’s here watching over me.”
The 6-8, 208-pound Reddish is cut from the same mold as Hunter, but he’s coming off an uneven freshman year with the Blue Devils. Reddish arrived in Durham as a top-five recruit but was only the third option behind teammates Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, both of whom went ahead of him in the draft.
Reddish was selected with a pick that Atlanta acquired in last year’s blockbuster deal that sent Luka Doncic to Dallas on draft night in exchange for Young.
In the deal with the Pelicans, the Hawks also got the No. 57 selection, a future second-round pick and forward Solomon Hill.
With his inside-out ability and 7-foot-2 wingspan, Hunter led the Cavaliers to their first national championship as a redshirt sophomore, most notably hitting the overtime-forcing 3-pointer in the victory over Texas Tech in the title game. He was the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year and picked up the national defensive award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Hunter isn’t as flashy as others in the draft and, if anything, he needs to be more assertive. There were times when he blended into the background with his unselfish play and an offensive game that still needs a bit of refining.
But he averaged 15.2 points on 52% shooting and hit nearly 44% of his attempts beyond the arc, just what the Hawks are looking for on a team that general manager Travis Schlenk hopes to build in the mold of the Golden State Warriors.
Hunter’s biggest selling point: Virginia won 66 of 71 games over two seasons with him in the lineup and lost the only game without him — that shocker against No. 16-seed UMBC in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Reddish offers the same two-way potential, but he didn’t shoot the ball as well as his reputation would suggest (35.6% overall, 33.3% on 3-pointers) and was a surprise late scratch against Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 with a left knee injury.
But Reddish is a stellar athlete and has the potential to be a lockdown defender with a 7-foot wingspan. He’s known for his shooting range, illustrated by his 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to win at Florida State.
Asked what he will bring to the Hawks, Reddish said, “A high-character guy coming in. A ton of energy. Great work ethic. I’m super excited. I can’t wait to get there.”
The additions of Hunter and Reddish might propel the Hawks to the fringe of playoff contention next season, but they’ll get a chance to take their rebuild to another level in 2020.
Schlenk has been acquiring over-priced players that other teams wanted to get off the books, including Hill ($12.8 million in 2019-20), Miles Plumlee ($12.5 million) and Allen Crabbe ($18.5 million). The Hawks also have Kent Bazemore, who will make $19.3 million next season.
All four of those players come off the books a year from now, freeing up $63.1 million to spend in free agency.