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2019-20 Season Preview: Devonte Graham

One of North Carolina’s beloved son’s, Devonte’ Graham, is set to take on a more advanced role as he prepares for his second season. I’m pretty positive that Graham will be a solid NBA player even after a pretty bad season this past year. He showed some good flashes this year of what he can bring to the table and I’ll go into what makes him a solid player.

Graham is one of the best passers on the team if not the best passer. He makes really good decisions with the ball and the way he makes pocket passes would make my high school coach drool. He’s a tremendous passer in the pick and roll and although on a low number attempts, he was in the 77th percentile as a pick and roll ball handler according to NBA.com. Here’s some of his wizardry as a passer:

Graham’s just a high IQ guy that knows to make the right plays. He’s effectively a game manager at the backup point guard position. Some may view that negatively but Hornets fans know that we’ve struggled a lot in the past with competence from backup PGs behind Kemba Walker (sore spot for me still yes). Graham just knows where to be and where his teammates to be and that’s wonderful to have on your second unit.

In addition to being a good passer, Graham is also a low turnover guy. He doesn’t try to do too much and only averaged 1.6 turnovers per 36 minutes this past year. Graham has all the passes in his bag and executes them at a high level. Having a guy that doesn’t turnover the ball is always great because it gives your team more opportunities to score. We’re gonna struggle to score this year (sigh) so we’re gonna need to have as many opportunities as we can.

Graham isn’t a great defender and at his size (6’2 185), he’ll probably never be one but he competes and he’s very smart so I don’t anticipate him being too much of a negative on defense moving forward. He can be a pest for opposing guards and he’ll be in the right place. I think he can get to at least average on the defensive end and that’s a win especially if he is a positive on offense.

But now, we have to get into the negatives. Graham was just a horrible shooter last year. At basically every part of the court. He finished the season with a 45.9 TS%. No, that isn’t a typo. Graham shot 28.1% from 3 and 50% from less than 5 feet. Not ideal. However, there is room for optimism. In college, he was a career 41% three point shooter and a 79% free throw shooter. I know the NBA line is farther out but I just don’t believe that Graham is a 28% three point shooter. That number will go up. He needs it to go up. He isn’t the most athletic guy and isn’t going to be the type of guy that lives at the rim. Having the three point shot, will help open up lanes for him and his teammates. This makes his passing that much more effective.

I loved this pick last year and I’m still a big fan of Graham’s. I think Charlotte has done pretty well lately in that department (Bacon/Bridges/Graham/Washington/Martin). I’m excited to see him get a chance to showcase more and I’m confident he’ll show a lot. If your backup point guard can pass really well, run the team effectively, shoot threes, and be average on defense, I think you’re doing pretty damn well. It all hinges on the shot but I can almost guarantee that Graham won’t shoot 28% from three ever again.

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