Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham’s stock is rising

NBA Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
NBA Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

In a weak Eastern Conference, the Charlotte Hornets are showing they can keep things interesting due to a steady hand off the bench in Devonte’ Graham. Charlotte should continue to build around young players like Graham to compete in the future.

Few teams in the NBA have flown as far under the radar early in the season as the Charlotte Hornets, and for good reason. With one of the youngest rosters in the league and having lost their best player in Kemba Walker to Boston in the offseason, it seems very unlikely that the Hornets will still be playing come May and June.

Those facts aside, Charlotte has been feisty in the early going, winning four of their first seven games, albeit against subpar competition (Bulls, Kings, Warriors, Pacers). This has been largely due to the Hornets making smart passes and cashing in on open looks in coach James Borrego’s offense. Through six games, the Hornets rank 9th in effective field goal percentage.

One of the biggest pitfalls for Charlotte coming into the year appeared to be a lack of depth at certain positions, including at point guard. Terry Rozier has taken over the starting role after the departure of Walker, but the rise of Devonte’ Graham coming off the bench has kept Borrego’s offense working even when Rozier leaves the floor.

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The former Kansas Jayhawk clearly has a much better grasp of the team’s schemes in his sophomore season and has proved to be as dependable as anyone on the team. Borrego recently spoke of Graham to the Charlotte Observer:

"“He’s taken a significant jump — not just a small jump — as far as his poise, his presence, his confidence on the court.”"

With Walker gone, Devonte’ Graham has had the opportunity to play more minutes per game and he has capitalized. He is playing twice as many minutes as a year ago and is averaging 16.7 points per game and 6.7 assists per game, up from 4.7 points and 2.6 assists per game during his rookie season.

It also helps that the young talent around him is improving as well, with players like Miles Bridges and PJ Washington having successful starts to the 2019-20 season. Graham should continue to grow in the offense and build on the chemistry he has shown with his teammates in plays like this:

If so, this is a team that can be competitive going forward. The Hornets won’t be winning any titles this year, and they may not even make the playoffs. However, it is not hard to envision a Hornets team in a few years with these talented young players at its core that is competing against the top contenders in the East for a top seed.

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Devonte’ Graham will play a vital role in making this a reality.