2017-18 statistics: 4.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists per game. 43.4 FG%, 41.2 3PG%
One player that went under the radar this season was Treveon Graham. With continued growth and improvement, he showed flashes towards becoming the 3-and-D player that the Charlotte Hornets desperately need and would become a reliable option off the bench.
Graham had a solid first year with the Hornets. After being undrafted in 2016, Graham competed in training camp and ultimately claimed a spot on the team last season. In that season, he averaged 2.1 points and a whopping 60 percent from beyond the arc. However, these numbers were off of just seven minutes played per game. This play was able to gain trust by then Hornets GM Rich Cho into guaranteeing Graham’s contract for this season.
Graham set out to achieve a bigger role with the team, and he did just that in the 2017-18 season. With his exceptional defensive and sharpshooting deep ball, he was able to double his playing time. This season Graham averaged 4.3 points, 1.9 rebounds while shooting an impressive 41.2 percent from three. Along with improved numbers, he showed versatility. For the first time in the NBA, Graham played lengthy minutes at power forward. Being a bit undersized at 6’6” and 220 pounds, Graham was still effective in defending opponents power forwards when the team needed him to. Since his time at power forward was primarily played due to injuries on the team, the games that Graham played in during the 2017-2018 season were very sporadic. On top of the team’s injuries, the play of rookie Dwayne Bacon greatly decreased Graham’s games played during the entirety of the season. Additionally, Graham suffered a concussion which cost him the last five games of the regular season. But, when Graham was given the opportunity to play, he excelled.
The main factor that demonstrated how Graham was such a great player this year was his efficiency. His usage rate was second on the team at 11.3, yet was able to become one of the most consistent players on the team. With a minimum of 90 3-point shots taken this season, Graham ranks second in 3-point percentage behind Marvin Williams. As a result, the Hornets ran successful spacing lineups with him in the game. This consistent play is rarely seen by a bench player in today’s NBA.
Graham can improve his game to become an even better player next season. Since he’s only 24 years old, it is realistic for him to continue developing in the offseason. The two main areas that he has to work on is his handles and slashing ability. There have been times this season where Graham has not been able to create his own shot with the shot clock winding down. Most times, he would either immediately pass the ball or hoist up a contested three. This lack of ball handling has put Graham into a spot up shooter role, which is fine for now but needs to change in the near future. By having Graham accessible to such ball handles, it would be yet another player for opposing bench players to look out for on the dribble behind Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk.
He also needs to work on his slashing. With such a bulky, and athletic frame, it doesn’t make a lot of sense how Graham is only shooting 2.7 free throw attempts per 48 minutes. If Graham does create an attack-the-basket skill, then opposing defenses would have to care about all areas of the half-court while defending him, not just the three-point line.
Graham is also going to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. If I were Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak, I would sign Graham to a long-term deal as soon as possible, though that may be difficult given the lack of cap space. He is the only 3-and-D wing player that the Hornets have. Given his offensive development in the summer, Graham could come back next year ready to impact the team even more.