Devonte Graham: Case for Most Improved Player
After four years at Kansas and a Final Four Appearance in his senior year, Devonte Graham was drafted with the 34th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks which was traded to the Charlotte Hornets. After a knee injury that he suffered in the Summer League in his rookie year, he spent some time in the G-league to rehabilitate it. He would spend some time in the NBA during his rookie year averaging 4.7 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game off the bench. It wasn’t until this year where he finally got his chance to break out, and in the process has made a great case for NBA Most Improved Player.
Most Improved Player Case
Rise in his Averages
After starting the season on the bench, he was able to make his way to the starting lineup. He did this through bringing his averages up. One of the biggest improvements he made was his points per game average. Which improved from 4.7 to 19.4 points per game so far this season while shooting 40/41/80. There were also improvements in his assists and rebounds per game averages. He improved his assists from 2.6 to 7.4 assists a game. He improved his rebound average from 1.4 to 3.8 rebounds a game. These improvements have translated into wins for the Hornets.
Graham has played some big games so far this season. One of his first big games came in their first game on October 23, 2019. Graham scored 23 points, with four rebounds and eight assists in a 126-125 win over the Chicago Bulls. The game that would give Graham recognition was in a 122-120 overtime win against the Indiana Pacers. He was able to get 35 points, four rebounds, and six assists. He also made two clutch free throws in the final seconds of that game. On December 11, 2019, he tallied a career-high 40 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 57 percent from the field in a 113-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets. He also made two clutch threes in the final minute of play in that game.
What Makes him Different
Devonte Graham has a lot behind him, but some things made him different than most candidates. The first thing we should look at is the team he’s on. The Charlotte Hornets were predicted to be one of the bottom-tier teams in the NBA. This is due to the loss of Kemba Walker and the way the Hornets starting lineup looked on paper. This is in terms of their player averages and the way they compared to other NBA teams. To start the year, the Charlotte Hornets have a 12-17 record and they sit ninth place in the Eastern Conference. So far this year, they have exceeded the expectations that were predicted for them coming into this season. They also have the potential to be in the playoffs with the way they’ve been playing. They sit just a half game back from the eighth seed in the East. Graham has played a huge role in this feat by leading the Hornets in points per game and assists per game. If he keeps it consistent, Devonte Graham has a shot at Most Improved Player in the NBA.