Charlotte Hornets: Does Devonte Graham deserve to start?

Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Four games into the Charlotte Hornets’ season, Devonte Graham has outperformed expectations so tremendously that controversy has begun on whether he should start over Terry Rozier.

With Kemba Walker deciding to leave for the Boston Celtics this past offseason, the Charlotte Hornets worked out a sign-and-trade with Boston to exchange Walker for Terry Rozier.

Terry Rozier is a young player that is talented and athletic, especially for his position. He stepped up big time for Bean Town when they entered the playoffs without Kyrie Irving.

Rozier lost a lot of people’s respect when the following year, he appeared to have taken a step back while playing behind Irving’s return to the starting lineup. However, there was still some hope that given the right situation, he may be able to return to form and play well.

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When Charlotte committed three years and $58 million to Rozier, there appeared absolutely no question that he would fill the starting point guard position after losing Kemba Walker.

That assumption was correct and still is today. Rozier has started all four games so far this year, and head coach James Borrego has given no indication that Terry’s starting job is in jeopardy.

However, Hornets 2018 second-round pick, Devonte Graham has played unbelievably well so far.

Hornets fans liked the guard coming into this year following his decent season last year and fully expected him to be one of the first players to come off of the bench, but no one could have imagined him playing as well as he has so far.

Devonte’s shooting has been a monumental improvement from last year. He is averaging 17.5 points per game and is shooting 53% from behind the arc so far to go along with dishing out 7.0 assists per game.

Those numbers show just how incredible he has been for this team. He not only is he finding his own offense effectively but also has put his teammates in a great position to score as well.

Something interesting to note about his shooting is that his form and shooting mechanics have not changed. Well, what then is the key to his shooting success?

Devonte has played and operated the offense this year with a contagious amount of confidence and swagger. It may not seem like an attitude should affect someone’s physical ability to shoot the basketball efficiently. Still, it can make a tremendous difference, and Devonte is clear evidence of such.

Despite Devonte’s incredible numbers and effective play, he comes off the bench and plays behind Rozier. Terry has so far put up 13 points per game and 5 assists on 40% from the field and 37% from deep in comparison to Devonte’s 17 and 7 on 43% and 53%, respectively.

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The game feels more comfortable and fluid when Devonte Graham runs the offense as opposed to Terry Rozier. This easily could be attributed to Rozier’s new arrival and that he is still adjusting to a new offense after so long in Boston. In contrast, Graham played under Coach Borrego and played with most of the players on this roster last year. Continuity does make a big difference.

Does this mean that Devonte should replace Rozier in the starting lineup? Should he be demoted because he is not fully adjusted yet?

If the ultimate goal is to have Rozier be the starting point guard, then reducing him to a bench role would be counterintuitive because he would be learning a new role that would yet be changed again, having to re-readjust.

Opting to be patient with Terry as he learns his role in the offense and allowing him time to become comfortable seems like the logical move. There should be no rush to find a quick fix to win games in a season that will not be defined by the number in the win column.

Devonte has certainly played well enough to be rewarded with starter minutes and is the best option to run the offense for this team.

Borrego is no stranger to playing smaller lineups and has allowed Devonte and Terry to play on the court at the same time. If Devonte is to be given a starting role, then Terry starting at point guard and Devonte starting at shooting guard seems the most likely.

This could allow terry to be more of a scorer and allow Devonte to be a playmaker. This option would have Dwayne Bacon coming off the bench, and it might enable him to find his rhythm against second-string players.

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Devonte has looked like the best player on this team so far, and I do not believe that his play has been a fluke. Expect him to continue to play at a high level and give this team hope when looking at the future.