New York Knicks: Projecting rookie impact of top 2019 NBA Draft targets

(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks De’Andre Hunter Virginia (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
New York Knicks De’Andre Hunter Virginia (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

4. De’Andre Hunter

Age: 20
Height, Weight: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds
Slash Line: .520/.438/.783
Season Averages: 15.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 1.2 3PM

De’Andre Hunter was the star of the National Championship Game, breaking out for 27 points to lead Virginia to the title. It solidified his overall numbers in his first full year as a starter, living up to expectations offensively and defensively.

Arguably, the most intriguing part of Hunter’s game is the 7-foot-2 wingspan that makes him able to cover wings. Any NBA team will covet that in a positionless league, where players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant dominate and rarely have the opposition able to contain them.

Does that mean Hunter is a stopper? No, but the upside is there to become a Trevor Ariza-esque defender who receives those assignments and holds his own, maybe as soon as rookie year.

Hunter should provide defensive work as a rookie, pending how much he plays for a team in the first round’s top 10. That has the potential for a full steal and block per game, with those totals only rising as he gains NBA experience.

For scoring, Hunter shot well in college on 2.8 attempts. Five years ago, that number marks a significant amount, but in the 2018-19 landscape, it gets dwarfed by most of the NBA.

43.8 percent might translate fine, but not at that level initially. Hypothetically, around 35 or 36 percent as a rookie, before growing into the NBA game.

The wingspan also allows Hunter to work on the boards and find putbacks. That alone will add to his point total each, playing as a stretch four in some situations that draws him to the basket.

2019-20 has All-Rookie potential for Hunter. His totals will depend on which top 10 team picks him, and if it’s the New York Knicks, this is an excellent role player to fit next to whichever superstars join this summer.