The Charlotte Hornets have had a lot of problems when in comes to being a relevant organization. Michael Jordan and any general manager beside him have made mistake after mistake with this team. Whether it was over-paying guys like Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrsit, or running out their most relevant super-star in Kemba Walker it has been a mess. This past off-season they seemed to have made some questionable decisions. Once Kemba went out the door, a new Point Guard was looking to take over in Terry Rozier.
They gave him an absurd contract of three years, $56 million in a sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics. Rozier was having his issues with minutes and seemed to have been rubbed the wrong way in Boston. He was looking to be the leader of his own team, and he got it… or at least he thought he did. There is another young man who is in his second year who wants to make a name for himself.
That would be Devonte Graham, from the Kansas Jayhawks. Graham was a four-year player at Kansas with not a lot of expectation going into the NBA. Even with him winning the Big 12 player of the year award in 2018, a four-year guy in college isn’t attractive to most teams. There was potential of him being drafted in the first-round, but fell to the 34th pick and right into Charlotte’s hands. Considering all that the Hornets had was an All-NBA Point Guard, the draft pick didn’t make sense. He had the skill-set of Kemba, but no one knew if that would translate to the NBA.
His first year, those doubts seemed to come to fruition as Graham didn’t have a stellar start. He only averaged 4.7 points on 34 percent shooting and less than 30 percent from deep. Granted, he was only given 15 minutes a game but it didn’t seem promising for the second-round pick. Once Kemba left, and they brought Rozier in, there seemed to be more of an opportunity to show-case what he brings to the table. People thought this Hornets team would easily be the worst in the NBA. They have a few promising players, but the salaries on this team are astronomical in a bad way.
In the first game of the 2019-2020 season, Graham showed why he may be one of the very-few positive things the Hornets have. In a game against the Bulls where the Hornets seemed down-and-out, Graham hit the big shots in the fourth quarter to secure a come-from-behind win. He had 23 points on 7/9 from the field, six of those made shots were from three-point range. The next game, although a loss to the Timberwolves, Graham still showed out scoring 24 points and hitting six three’s yet again. In a game against the Pacers, where the Hornets pulled it out in overtime, he scored 35 points and hitting from all angles. It wasn’t just that he was hitting his shots, he was getting to the line too. Last night against the Pelicans, it was Graham once again who was the better Point Guard. He had 24 points to go along with 10 assists and five rebounds.
In a dark-cave that the Hornets have found themselves in, Graham has found a way to shine some light. He is the leading scorer for them so far this season, and may honestly be there best Point-Guard. He has poise, a high-IQ and has a knack for hitting big time shots, something that Rozier hasn’t shown in these first-few games. Graham is averaging 17.8 points, 7.3 assists and four rebounds on 41 percent from the field and from three. Him along with PJ Washington, Mikal Bridges and Cody Zeller have been the most impressive so far.
He is on a Most-Improved Player kind of year, he has been balling on all levels. The Hornets are currently 4-5 and 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. They have some talent there this year, which begs the question will this all last? Sure, they aren’t a great team right now, but guys are stepping up in ways that I didn’t think I’d see. Huge credit so far this season goes to Head Coach James Borrego, who has made the best out of the situation he has been given. Graham has stepped up big-time, and is coming for that starting Point Guard position. If Rozier doesn’t wake up fast, it could be Graham’s for the taking.