In what appears to be a shortened season, Charlotte Hornets guard, Devonte’ Graham made a solid case for Most Improved Player. Can he take it even further next season?
Despite missing out of the playoffs for the fourth straight season, the Charlotte Hornets are feeling optimistic about their immediate future. Between the potential of young guys like Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington, there is a lot to look forward to in Charlotte.
Graham’, most especially, took a large leap this season, seeing his scoring total skyrocket by almost 14 points a game. His 18.2 points per contest were the team-high, as was his assist total, dishing out 7.5 a night.
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He certainly shocked quite a few people coming off of his rookie season, where he was often the third point guard in the rotation. Not many Charlotte players have shown that much improvement from their first to their second year.
So, what can we expect from the 6’1″ guard out of Kansas in his third year? Can he become just the eighth All-Star to represent the city of Charlotte? Well, to do that might take more effort than just upping his statistical numbers. In fact, he might just need to lead the team to the postseason.
Just speaking from a statistical standpoint, though, 18 points and 8 assists (if you want to round it up) a game is not going to do it. For reference, in Kemba Walker‘s first All-Star season, he averaged just over 23 points a game.
His assist total wasn’t as high as Graham’s, dealing out just 5.5 a game, but his shooting totals were better than Devonte’s. Kemba shot 44% from the field that season and 40% from behind the arc during that campaign.
Devonte’ made just 38% from the field and only 37% from three this past season. Not to mention, his perimeter defense could really use some improvement as well, but at his size, that might be an ongoing issue.
To further the point, Kemba only made it as a reserve and his numbers were some of the best of his career up until now. Additionally, the Hornets were 8 games below .500 at the All-Star Break that year, so for Walker to make it even then was quite a feat.
If stats alone aren’t going to do it, then winning will surely have to be a part of it and it might be some time before the Charlotte Hornets are relevant in the East. The team is already a small-market club and most casual fans see them as a perennial basement dweller, so they have a lot to do to shed their tarnished image. For a team like the Hornets, repairing that image is about as crucial as you can get in the eyes of All-Star voters.
It might not be next year, then, if trends continue as they have. Perhaps in a few year’s time, should the team be able to keep him around, but of course, even that isn’t guaranteed. If they can manage to retain him and he can lead this young group to a postseason berth or two, while putting up better numbers, we may just see number 4 representing the Queen City.
While the fanbase certainly is patient and believes that this team can become something of note, for Devonte’ to become an All-Star would exceed just about everyone’s expectations, even after this year.
He has every opportunity to make that happen if he puts in the work on both sides of the ball. If the Charlotte Hornets want to be a player in the Eastern Conference, that might just be what they need in order to do so.