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2020-21 Player Preview: Devonte’ Graham

Devonte’ Graham, 6’1, 195 pounds, G

After a slow start as rookie, Devonte’ Graham had an excellent sophomore season and finished fifth in Most Improved voting. Te’ improved in nearly every category across the board this past year:

The big driver of Graham’s impact was his improved three point shooting. Te’ was a great shooter at Kansas so I expected him to be better than the 28.1% that he shot in his rookie year but I really didn’t see him bombing over nine threes a game. He’s a special shooter:

Te’ in transition. Cash.

Stepback Te’. Cash.

Te’ off a handoff. Cash.

Don’t go under on Te’ in pick and roll. Cash.

Every time the ball left his hands, I thought it was going in. Only three players played in at least thirty games, shot over nine threes a game, and made at least 37% of them: Damian Lillard, Buddy Hield, and our own Devonte’ Graham. That’s a special class to be in.

Te’ is also a special passer. He has great vision and has all of the passes in his bag. He excels at the pocket pass and for my money is one of the ten best guys in the league at it. He developed a good connection with PJ Washington on it which bodes well for our future:

As you can see, Te’ is a pretty special shooter outside the arc. Inside the arc, not so much. Te’ shot just under 40% on two pointers this past year. Only 13.2% of his shot attempts come at the rim and he only shot 54.3% there. In the floater range (3-10 feet), he only shot 27.4% from the field. He struggled a lot when teams sold out on his three point shooting and forced him to go inside.

In addition, even as the primary scorer for the Hornets, Graham shot under four free throw attempts a game. These are the areas that Devonte’ has to improve in to take the next step as an offensive player. The biggest area out of those that I can see him improving on is his shooting from floater range. Graham isn’t the biggest guy out there so I don’t see him improving too much at the rim or getting fouled a lot. You have to be a healthy Isaiah Thomas level athlete at that size for you to be really good there. However, a lot of good small guards have that floater in their bag. With his shooting ability, Te’ should be able to easily get into the paint as teams sell out on his shooting. That will allow him to get into floater range pretty frequently. He has to be able to hit those and take advantage.

The other thing I’m looking for is how Te’ works off ball this year with added ball-handlers in LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward. I hope to see his shooting leveraged a lot. He should be able to be really good as a spot-up guy and hopefully, we can even see him take advantage of his shooting gravity off-movement. Te’ was a pretty special player offensively last year and ranked in the top 15 in offensive PIPM per bball index. We can’t trust all in one metrics without context but I think it does give a good gauge of how good offensively he was last year. All of this value came with the ball in his hands though so it’ll be interesting to see how this shifts this year. It’ll be important to watch as we look at the Hornets long term outlook.

Overall though, I expect that Devonte’ will have another good year. Gordon Hayward should make it a lot easier for Te’ and will take a lot of pressure off. The other question in the room is that Devonte’ is entering the final year of his rookie deal. He is restricted so the Hornets will be able to match anything but look for them to get an extension done before it comes to that. He deserves it.

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