In a long, trying season for the Charlotte Hornets, there were little things, or fringe players, that made everything just a little more tolerable. Recent memory shouts, “Briante Weber!” And that is an absolutely fantastic example of the kind of young player with a cult following that the Hornets showcased this season.
Yesterday, Nick did a fantastic rundown for Miles Plumlee, another player that spent some time on the floor for Charlotte, though not much. Today, it’s Treveon Graham’s turn. He’s a player that many might remember from his four-year stint with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
If you don’t watch college basketball, his name might have slipped under your radar. Going back to what I mentioned about players like Graham and Plumlee spending some time on the floor for Charlotte, but not that much, there’s a logical explanation. 19 players suited up for the Hornets during the 2016-17 season, including Mike Tobey, Aaron Harrison, Plumlee, and Graham.
In a sentence, this is approximately how Graham’s season unfolded: He played 24 minutes in his only career start against the Toronto Raptors on November 11, and then finished the season with nearly 16 minutes and a career/season-high 25.5 minutes, playing next to nothing between.
Such can be life for first-year players in the league, it isn’t easy to carve out a name for yourself among the best talent on the planet.
Graham played in 27 games this season, but only played more than nine minutes on four occasions, and I’ve already listed three of them. I’m sure that 27 games in the NBA feels like an upgrade for the young guard, having spent the season between his senior year of college ball and this year with Charlotte plying his trade in the NBA D-League with the Idaho Stampede.
The appeal of Graham is simple – the NBA loves young athletes that can competently defend more than one position and have a little range in their game. During his first season with the Hornets, Treveon flashed some shooting ability in a very limited sample size. He shot 60 percent from 3-point range this season, which is fantastic. But the caveat is that he only shot 15 3-pointers the entire season.
Defense is valuable to head coach Steve Clifford, and if Graham can bring it on that end of the floor, it stands to reason that he could become a long-term fixture in the league. It would be nice if he actualizes that with Charlotte.
It’s really touchy, projecting the future of a player that only has 189 minutes in the league, but I’m still in on Graham. Based on size, position, and skill set, one name that has been getting a lot of burn in the playoffs comes to mind – Tony Snell. They don’t have a similar career trajectory at this point, Snell having played considerably more minutes, like a thousand more, in his rookie season, but the skill set looks like it is probably the same and a comparison to Snell feels better than trying to say that he has the skill set of the of the best players in the league.
Graham got more run in his first year than many of his young, fringe teammates. Charlotte has tied up the better part of their cap space and will be looking internally for some options to improve the bench depth next year. I’m sure that I’m not the only one hoping that Graham can build on his limited success in 2016-17 and help get the Hornets back into the playoffs.