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De’Andre Hunter ruled out for rest of season [UPDATE]

Hawks swingman won’t return for the playoffs and will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

De’Andre Hunter of the Atlanta Hawks celebrates his three point shot in the first quarter against the New York Knicks during game two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden on May 26, 2021 in New York City. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Update, June 9: Hunter has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and will undergo knee surgery, the team announced on Wednesday. Hunter had missed each of the past two games in the second round against the Sixers due to a knee injury, which was revealed as a torn meniscus. So the Hawks will operate without their starting small forward for the rest of the playoffs. The Hawks are tied with the Sixers 1-1 in their second-round series.

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Update, June 7: Hunter is being listed as a game-time decision for Game 2 vs. the Sixers on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET in Philly. The Hawks upset the Sixers 128-124 in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon. Solomon Hill started in place of Hunter and would likely draw another start if the former lottery pick can’t play again due to a knee injury. Hill played 25 minutes but didn’t do much outside racking up 4 fouls. Kevin Huerter should benefit more from the absence of Hunter.

Update, Game 1: Hunter has been ruled out and will be replaced with Solomon Hill in the starting lineup. Hunter’s absence bodes well for the fantasy production of Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons.

One of the Atlanta Hawks’ most important players is questionable for their Sunday matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. De’Andre Hunter’s status for Game 1 of the second round is up in the air because of a knee injury. The second-year wing only played 23 regular-season games because of a knee injury, and his absence could put the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed at a major disadvantage against Philadelphia.

Hunter ended the regular season on a minutes restriction but has had his workload slowly increased during the postseason. He logged 30.2 minutes per game against the New York Knicks in the first round and averaged 10.8 points per game. While Hunter’s offense can be important for Atlanta, his defensive impact is even more important.

Hunter emerged as one of the NBA’s more promising, young 3-and-D players earlier this year and has proved that he can effectively prevent the top scorers of opposing teams from getting easy looks. He was instrumental in holding Julius Randle to under 30% shooting in the first round because of his defensive range. While he didn’t contain this year’s Most Improved Player by himself, he’s vital to the strategy that helped Atlanta secure the NBA’s second-best defensive rating (102.1) in the first round. Hunter’s individual defensive rating was 100.3.

The 76ers are dealing with Joel Embiid’s torn meniscus but are still capable on offense thanks to skilled wings like Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. Kevin Huerter and Tony Snell are significant downgrades from Hunter defensively, so Atlanta’s approach to replacing Hunter’s minutes is worth keeping an eye on.