Back in the day, Steven Hunter was about as athletic of a 7 footer as you would find. This is kind of fortunate, since his athleticism was also pretty much the sum total of his skillset. Hunter could never shoot, post up or finish with much aplomb, and all of his offensive production came out of his athleticism. He ran the floor better than all other 7 footers, and his cuts to the basket and occasional post feed for a turnaround jumper were about all he would get offensively. Hunter has never had much of a jumpshot, and is even worse from the foul line, but the sheer speed and leaping ability made him an occasionally useful, if highly unpolished, offensive player.
Defensively, things weren't a whole lot different. Hunter's athleticism made him a fine shot bocker, able to affect any and all shots around the rim, and to match up fairly well with the few face-up centres in the game today. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many shot blockers, Hunter's rebounding rate has never been good, and while he measures in at 7 feet tall, he's not very strong. He can and will be pushed around on the interior, and no amount of jumping can make up for being out of position in the first place.
The real bad news is that his size and athleticism led to the inevitable decline of his knees. When you jump for a living, the compression injuries will catch up with you eventually. I don't know if it's what they'd call "jumper's knee", but after ACL surgery back in 2002, Hunter's knee never fully recovered, and his career has been effectively stopped by the chronic pain in his continually deteriorating knee. Even when he is able to play, the state of his knee can't have had any positive effect on his athleticism (sorry to be so patronisingly obvious there), and without much of a skillset to fall back on, it's hard to know what good he brings. Hunter has not had much success in college or in the pros, and was drafted and paid based off of the potential his athletic prowess generated. But he's never fulfilled it, and now with the knee shot to pieces, he's never going to.
- 16th October, 2009.