|Grahamís goal: Step up in NBA Las Vegas Summer League|
|Hornets guard takes on leadership role|
|Published Tuesday, July 2, 2019 1:46 pm|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Devonte Graham will try to apply lessons learned from his NBA mentor, Kemba Walker, at point guard with the Hornets' all-time scoring leader off to Boston.|
Devonte Graham is going to miss Kemba Walker.
Graham, the Hornets’ point guard, benefited from Walker’s mentoring as a rookie on and off the basketball court. Once word spread that Walker was leaving Charlotte for Boston on a four-year, $141 million deal, Graham and fellow 2018 rookie Miles Bridges joined a group chat with the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer to talk about the past and future.
“Kemba was my guy,” Graham said Monday at the opening of Summer League camp at Spectrum Center. “I talked to him [Sunday] about everything. I’m happy for him. As young guys, we’ve got to step up and elevate our game a lot more because a lot more is going to be on us, and be a team, starting with me and getting ready for next year.”
Walker’s absence leaves more than a hole in leadership for the Hornets. He’s taking a career season with 25.6 points and 5.9 assists per game, which as of now is up to Terry Rozier, who was acquired from Boston, and Graham, who showed promise last season when he took on minutes that had gone to Tony Parker earlier.
“I’ve definitely got to take more responsibility, be more of a pro and expect a lot more of myself this upcoming season,” Graham said.
Hornets Summer League head coach Ronald Nored praised Graham’s offseason work leading up to the summer showcase in Las Vegas, which typically include draft picks and young free agents looking to earn a spot on a training camp roster. The key for Graham is to build momentum for the fall through leadership and playmaking.
“Devonte has worked really hard this summer,” Nored said. “For him, I think his growth [and] we saw him at the end of the season, we want him to take some pretty big shots, as we saw him do when he was a player at Kansas. In Summer League, he’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot, so we need him to be a shot maker, we need him to run our team. Those things he’s been working on in the summer, hopefully, they’ll translate when we get out to Vegas.”
Graham also wants to make a good impression on Nored, a former G League head coach with experience working with young players.
“I’m excited for him,” Graham said. “He’s a great guy, a great coach, a great individual worker, so I think it’ll be fun.”
Although Graham has a chance to improve his stock in Charlotte, he’ll miss his mentor and vice versa, as their conversation revealed.
“I wanted [Walker] to stay, of course,” Graham said. “He’s a great player, a great teammate. …He talked about [his] leaving. He said he’ll miss the city and all that and he loved us. That was the gist of it.”
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