Will defense be what helps RJ Hunter make the team?

Last season I was excited to see how RJ Hunter would adjust to the NBA. While he was known as a shooter in college, skeptics pointed out that he only shot 30% on threes in his final college season. I thought he was a better shooter than his percentage showed, and he took a lot of shots he normally wouldn't because his team relied on him to score. Hunter ended up shooting 30% on threes in his first NBA season, so he was pretty much as advertised.

What I personally found encouraging was that despite the narrative being that he would be way behind defensively in the NBA, he appeared to me to understand team defense and be capable of playing it. Sure, there were times he was beaten badly, blown by, or missed rotations, but I was actually pleasantly surprised he seemed as capable as he did. It appears he is going to put more of a focus on it this second time around, and maybe it could be what separates him and helps him make the team.

While defense is always going to be a necessity for a Brad Stevens team, I still think it's the shooting and the offense that would best help Hunter solidify a spot on this roster. If he is shooting well, as long as he is serviceable on defense and doesn't look like a scarecrow, a turnstile, or James Harden, he should be fine.

If that last roster spot comes down to a decision between him or James Young and you call the shooting a wash, then yes maybe he does need to show a renewed focus and some improvement on defense, assuming that could be the tie-breaker between them. But from that spot I still think shooting and floor spacing is the top priority. So yes, please be a good defender RJ, but we need you to knock down some treys.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

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