Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham could evolve into one of the league’s best passers

Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

It’s no secret to fans of the Charlotte Hornets how much of an improvement Devonte’ Graham showed in his second year. His biggest improvement may just be his playmaking ability.

I think enough has been said about the progress Devonte’ Graham has shown in his sophomore season for the Charlotte Hornets. One of his most overlooked qualities, though, is his ability to dish out the rock.

Yes, his 7.5 assists per game are good for 8th in the league, right around names like James Harden, Damien Lillard, and Kyle Lowry. But, it’s his ability to generate offense without the ball that complements his ability with it.

In terms of passes received per game, Devonte’ leads the league, by a wide margin, receiving the rock at a rate of nearly 82 times a game. Being the focal point of a team’s offense, that makes perfect sense.

Devonte’ Graham has played the point guard position very well for the Charlotte Hornets, but his passing may be the most overlooked of his toolset.

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His passes made, though, is also right up there with the leaders of the league, doling the ball to other players 67 times a game, good enough for 4th in the league. Combining those two, Graham is in the company of facilitators such as Ben Simmons and LeBron James. That’s some pretty good company.

To further drive the point about his off-ball abilities, he still ranks in the top-10 in the league in secondary assists. Think of those like the pass just before an actual assist is made; kind of how like assists in hockey are tallied.

Having a fellow point guard like Terry Rozier, who is a decent facilitator in his own right, playing alongside him helps with that, as the two make up a great passing backcourt, though they do give up some size when paired together.

The only problem is that the Hornets aren’t that efficient at scoring, leaving a lot of wasted opportunities when it comes to converting assists. They rank near the bottom of the league in terms of potential assists and points created off assists.

That makes a lot of sense when you have a true shooting percentage that is next to last in the league, second only to the New York Knicks. This ultimately sets their pace at just 96, last in the NBA by over a point.

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Of course, if you’ve been paying any attention to the team this past year, you’re probably aware of at least some of this. To say the Hornets have been inefficient is an understatement. This is why it’s imperative they draft an inside scorer in the upcoming NBA Draft, should one be available.

And if they can find a nice shooting wing in the draft or in free agency, that would help boost Graham’s passing numbers a bit as well, as the guard could make moves from penetrating the paint or in transition, which is something the team had tried to make an emphasis in the latter half of the season.

It’d be nice to see the Charlotte Hornets have a scoring and passing guard, like say, Chris Paul or even John Wall. The last player that averaged more than 7 assists per game for a Charlotte franchise was Raymond Felton. Yes, it’s been that long.

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Even if he doesn’t reach the superstar status of some of the players mentioned earlier, Graham could make a case for one of the best passers in team history, should he stick around long enough and the team puts the right pieces around him. Here’s hoping he can see further improvement as the floor general next season.