The Atlanta Hawks have been dealt a significant blow, as the team announced Wednesday afternoon that second-year wing De'Andre Hunter will miss the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus. Hunter sat out the last two games for the Hawks in their second-round series against the 76ers with what the team originally called "right knee soreness." But after an MRI and a second opinion from a doctor, he'll undergo surgery to repair the tear.
Per the Hawks:
"Prior to Game 1, De'Andre Hunter began experiencing some mild swelling in his right knee. Head team physician Dr. Kenneth Mautner and head orthopaedist Dr. Kyle Hammond examined Hunter and suggested an MRI. The initial review revealed a new small tear of the lateral meniscus. Films from the MRI were sent to Dr. ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in LA for a second opinion, who earlier today confirmed the tear & recommended surgery. Hunter is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles this weekend and undergo surgery to the lateral meniscus on Tuesday with Dr. ElAttrache. He will miss the remainder of the postseason and future updates will be provided as appropriate."
Hunter missed 46 games during the regular season with right knee soreness, and had two separate non-surgical procedures to deal with the issue. This is the same knee that he just tore his meniscus in, indicating that it's been an issue for him all season long. When Hunter was on the floor for the Hawks this season, he was positive on both ends, averaging 15 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, while also establishing himself as a versatile defender.
For the Hawks, losing Hunter is a tough pill to swallow on defense, and his absence has certainly been felt through the first two games of Atlanta's series against Philadelphia. While Hunter wasn't going to significantly help Atlanta's inability to contain Sixers superstar Joel Embiid, who despite playing on a partially torn meniscus himself is having his way with the likes of Clint Capela, putting up 39 and 40 points in the first two games. He would certainly help on the perimeter in trying to slow down Tobias Harris and Seth Curry.
Both Harris and Curry have put up 20-plus points in each of the first two games, and as evidenced in Game 2, when Atlanta isn't taking care of the ball on offense, the Sixers have made them pay on the other end of the floor. Without Hunter to rely on for defense, players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Solomon Hill and Trae Young are being asked to defend on a level that none of them are really well equipped to do. As the series goes on, Hunter's absence could continue to become more of a glaring issue for the Hawks, giving the Sixers an advantage.