Team: Charlotte Hornets
Exp: 1 year
Age: 24 years old
Weight: 185 lbs.
Devonte’ Graham’s game is largely based on his ability to shoot the ball. He has a shooter’s stroke and has proven it thus far with the 7th most made 3s in the NBA so far at a 42.5% clip. He can shoot off the catch or the dribble and his mechanics are near flawless either way. This allows him to be effective at either guard position. Graham is also very effective off the pick and roll. If you go under the screen, he will pull up for three. Then if you throw a double team at him, he remains calm and will find the big man diving to the rim. Devonte’ has good fundamentals and can make some really good bounce passes, chest passes or lob passes to create easy opportunities for his teammates. Graham shows good vision in non-pick and roll situations as well. He can dribble well with both hands and can create enough separation to get his shot off 1v1 with a defender. He also likes to push the ball on occasion and play in transition to create easy chances for him or his teammates. Devonte’ also shows IQ by knowing how to draw contact and making the refs blow the whistle as he is averaging 5.6 free throw attempts per game. A lot of times, he gets fouled outside the paint by getting defenders up in the air and leaning into them which is impressive for a 2nd-year player. Graham is a team player and has good awareness on both ends of the floor. On defense, he is good at seeing ball and man. He is willing to rotate and put his body on the line and take the charge when necessary.
The biggest challenge for him is in the pick and roll when his man goes over the screen and the opposing big man stays home. This forces Graham in a position most guards love, but Graham doesn’t have a floater game nor the bounce to score at the rim over the shot-blocker. At times he seems clueless with what to do in these situations. When the defense is forcing him to play inside the arc, he needs to learn to take the one-dribble pull-ups. Despite it being against the analytics, he has to stick to his strengths and take the open 16-footer. He shouldn’t have a better 3 point percentage than his 2 point percentage. Another area of improvement is when he is in the pick and roll, he tends to get tunnel vision and only looks at the roll man. Devonte can consistently find ways to get the ball to the roll man, but can potentially put the roll man in a position destined to be turned over, because there is a help defender right there ready to strip the ball or take the charge. Part of this could be the fact that Graham is only 6’1 which makes it hard for him to see the whole court, but we have seen players his size be effective at understanding where the defense is going to be and making the right play. Graham is also not the most athletic either as he doesn’t have that quick first step to attack off the catch and doesn’t have the bounce to finish above the rim as I mentioned before. The one area where Graham does have an advantage is his wingspan. Unfortunately though, he doesn’t use it to his advantage as he is a below-average on-ball defender and doesn’t create many turnovers as he is averaging less than 1 SPG.
Graham is a very nice third guard for a team as he is interchangeable at either guard position. He will provide for any team as a great floor spacer who is smart and understands the game. He gets players involved and does a good job of leading the offense. His ceiling is limited right now though as he doesn’t have that ability to create at the rim. Many of his weaknesses are fixable, Devonte’ has shown enough to prove that he belongs in the NBA at least as a rotation player. It would be surprising if he doesn’t improve his vision in the pick and roll as well as being more aggressive in the mid-range. While he will always lack that athletic burst, so if he wants to become that starting point guard, he must develop a floater game. This will allow him to be a three-level scorer and could be a starting point guard in the NBA. You would like to see him be a better defense with that 6’6 wingspan, but it is still important to focus on the positives as they outweigh the negatives. A jump shot goes a long way in the NBA and will be the biggest key to his success. It’s Graham’s second year in the NBA, but he spent 4 years at Kansas and will turn 25 in February so he is not like most sophomores. With this in mind, Devonte’ has still shown enough to prove that he belongs in the NBA.
Article written by Bradley Patten
Stats, age, and player measurements found on Basketball-Reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/g/grahade01.html)
Photo Credit to Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images (https://theathletic.com/1368348/2019/11/12/whats-gotten-into-devonte-graham-preparation-hard-work-confidence-and-opportunity/)