|Devonte Graham takes giant leap forward in second NBA season|
|Backup point guard leads Hornets in scoring|
|Published Friday, November 8, 2019|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Although he's a backup, second-year point guard Devonte Graham leads the Charlotte Hornets in scoring through the first eight games of the season.|
The Charlotte Hornets’ leading scorer comes off the bench.
Second-year guard Devonte Graham averages 17 points per game through their first eight games. However, coach James Borrego is not ready to put Graham in the starting rotation.
“Not right now,” Borrego said Thursday following their 108-87 loss to Boston, which snapped a three-game win streak.
Graham exemplifies what Borrego wants to accomplish with his four-pillar system as it pertains to player development. He spent significant time going back and forth between the G-League affiliate in Greensboro and Charlotte last season before cementing his place on the second unit. His rookie season included three starts in 46 appearances, averaging 4.9 points per game with season highs of 13 points, nine assists and six boards. However, Graham’s growth is apparent early in his second season. He came off the bench against Indiana to score a career-high 35 points Tuesday. He is shooting 41.8 percent from the field as well as from three-point range.
“Continue to do what he’s doing,” Borrego said. “He’s put himself in a nice position here with his work ethic and how he’s progressing. Every night there’s going to be a different look. He’s scouted at a different level now. [Celtics coach] Brad Stevens and their group talked a lot about Devonte Graham tonight, including Kemba Walker [a former Hornets teammate now with Boston]. As teams start to scout you more, put you at the top of their list, you have to adjust and adapt, but I thought he was fine tonight. I didn’t think he was pressing. He had some good looks and he’s still looking to make the right play so he’ll continue to grow just like all of our guys.”
Said forward Miles Bridges: [Graham] puts the work in. He’s very focused, very dedicated. I expected this from him this year.”
Whenever called upon, Graham embraces the role of a floor general. He scored 15 points behind Bridges’ team-high 18 against the Celtics.
“I try to help it out when I come in, just to be the floor general, leader on the floor,” said Graham, who also had nine assists and four rebounds against Boston. “And you know, try to get guys going, that energy, keep it going, especially on defense because if we get stops and run we can play with anybody.”
Said Bridges, who was drafted along with Graham in 2018: “I think Devote likes coming off the bench…comes in, gives us a lot of energy on the offensive end and the defensive end.”
Graham spent his rookie season learning from Walker, and he has adopted a few moves from the three-time All-Star.
“Definitely stole some of [his moves],” Graham said. “Definitely. When you’ve got a great guy like that, great point guard in this league you watch him, got to watch him the whole year so I definitely take some of his stuff from him.”
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