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Juicy Fruit Rookies

NBA Rookie Rewind presented by Juicy Fruit: How does Kevin Huerter compare to Klay Thompson?

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Juicy Fruit Rookie Comparison (NBA.com Illustration)

After the Atlanta Hawks traded Luka Doncic to the Dallas Mavericks for Trae Young and used their other first round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft to select Kevin Huerter, there was a story in The Washington Post about how the franchise hoped they had found their Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the future.

The man pulling the strings after all, Hawks GM Travis Schlenk, came from Golden State and was part of the front office that drafted both of the Splash Brothers and built a dynasty around them.

We've already looked at how Young compares to Curry through 60 games of his rookie season, so how does Huerter compare to Thompson?

Pretty well, actually.

Thompson was a more prolific scorer and accurate shooter when he first came into the NBA, but the two players posted similar numbers across the board as rookies. First and foremost, Thompson took 6.0 3-pointers per 36 minutes compared to 6.1 for Huerter.

Huerter has actually been more reliant on 3-pointers than Thompson was as a rookie, with those shots making up over half of his field attempts on the season compared to about a third for the Warriors star. Most of those 3-pointers have been catch-and-shoot, but he has also flashed some potential as a shooter off the dribble, something Thompson didn't start doing until his third season.

Additionally, Huerter has a slight edge on Thompson when it comes to rebounds (4.3 vs. 3.6) and assists (3.6 vs. 3.0) while averaging the same amount of steals (1.1) and blocks (0.4) per 36 minutes.

The combination makes them look like incredibly similar players on paper.

Huerter drew some comparisons to Thompson heading into draft because of his size and shooting stroke. While it's highly unlikely that he develops into the sharpshooter Thompson has become - he'd go down as one of the greatest shooters of all time if he does - Huerter has progressed nicely as a facilitator this season.

After averaging 1.4 assists per game in October, Huerter handed out 3.8 in January and 3.4 in February. He set his career-high with seven assists in the first week of January and has since tied it twice.

Thompson's season-high as a rookie was eight assists, but he's only recorded seven or more assists 10 times in his NBA career.

If Huerter can continue to improve as a playmaker, it would only help him differentiate himself from Thompson.

Whether or not Huerter is actually the second coming of Thompson remains to be seen, but the Hawks have one of the brightest futures in the league even if he isn't. John Collins has emerged as a star on the rise this season, Young has been both the best rookie and one of the best players in the Eastern Conference over the last 4-6 weeks and Huerter has proven to be perhaps the best kept secret in last year's draft.

With two more potential lottery picks on the way - their own and the Mavericks' as long as it falls outside of the top-five - the rest of the league should be scared of what they're building in Atlanta.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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