Charlotte Hornets: A closer look at Devonte’ Graham’s big season

Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Devonte‘ Graham’s second season with the Charlotte Hornets been a much more improved and impressive one, but just how impressive has his sophomore year been?

Devonte’ Graham’s first season with the Charlotte Hornets saw him play 46 games averaging 4.7 points per game with shooting splits of .343/.281/.761. The 6’1″ guard also finished the season with a 42.1 effective field goal percentage along with a 45.9 true shooting percentage. While I am a huge fan of advanced stats, his jump in basic stats from year one to year two are quite remarkable and it’s what has seen his role in Charlotte become critical to the team.

Through the Charlotte Hornets‘ 64 games so far this season Graham has suited up 62 times in teal, averaging 35.1 minutes per game – more than any other Hornets player and more than his first season where he averaged just 14.7.

As you can imagine, with an increase in minutes comes the expectation of an increase in numbers and it’s fair to say, Graham is doing that exactly that. As we abruptly hit the NBA’s hiatus, caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Graham is currently leading the team averaging 18 points per game with improved shooting splits of .382/.373/.820 while also leadIng the team in assists with 7.5 (eighth-most among all players in the NBA). However, what’s most impressive is that both Graham’s effective field goal and true shooting percentages have risen from 42.1 and 45.9 to 48.9 and 53.3 respectively.

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Graham’s climb in numbers is no fluke as often we see Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego and his teammates looking to the young guard to make things happen. This is something that can also be clearly seen when looking at his usage numbers in more depth.

During his first season, Devonte’s usage percentage sat at just 16.6 percent, however, this season it’s taken a big jump to a team-high of 24.2 percent. Moreover, the former Kansas Jayhawk actually accounts for team-highs a lot deeper across the board. These incidentally are also career-highs for the former 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year.

Graham is accounting for 24.6 percent of the Hornets field goals attempted, 36.8 percent of 3-pointers made and 42.5 percent of assists per game. Compare this to his first season where those numbers all sat at 17.4/20.7/36.8, you have to be impressed with the fact that with more responsibility and a bigger role on the team, Graham has not disappointed.

Although comparing his numbers solely to his to teammates is one thing, something else that stands out and will rightly be questioned is: But how does he compare to the rest of the league now that his numbers have improved?

This is a great very valid question and one that can simply be answered by taking a look at his success night in, night out from the field and how he matches up to his fellow colleagues around the league.

To put it into some context, Graham is currently shooting within the league average from deep, with the majority of his looks coming from the top of the arc, yet his best shooting spots are clearly in the left and right corners where he is averaging 41.2 percent and 40.9 percent (the league average from both the left and right corners are currently 39.7 and 37.8).

Devonte’ Graham currently sits seventh in the league averaging 3.4 three-pointers made per game and fifth in the league in total three-pointers made with 210.

While the majority of his looks come from behind the arc and within the league average, Devonte’ has had his most attempts come down low in the restricted area. Of his 206 attempted shots down low, Graham has hit just 85 which actually sees him sit below the league average of 57.9 percent on 41.3 percent. While this could be a cause for concern, maybe this won’t be an issue. After all, he’s not spending much time in the paint and around the basket anyway.

Despite struggling in the low post, an area where Graham does find success in is from the mid-range and in particular, both sides of the short corners. The league average for the left corner is 40.4 percent while the right is 40.2 percent. He is currently averaging 57.1 percent from the left and on the right (which is by far his strongest shooting area) 66.7 percent.

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Based on the progression of his numbers and how he is able to hang with his fellow NBA players when it comes to his shooting averages, there is no doubt in my mind that Devonte’ Graham’s sophomore season is turning into a breakout year.

Whether it’s been his tremendous increase in stats and numbers that have impressed or moments such as his 40-point career-high night against the Brooklyn Nets or even the night when he tied the Charlotte Hornets franchise record for 3-pointers made with 10 on his way to 33 points against the Golden State Warriors, one thing is for sure…

Although he was originally drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, the Charlotte Hornets brought him to Buzz City in a trade which could arguably go down one of the biggest steals in franchise history should he continue to grow as he is beyond this second season. Graham has quickly developed into a key role player in a very short space of time for the Hornets and he is only just getting started.

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