Greensboro or Charlotte, Hornets' Graham just wants to play this season

Mitchell Northam

CHARLOTTE --- For second-year Charlotte Hornets' guard Devonte’ Graham, he just wants to get on the court this season.

And for him, it doesn’t matter if that’s in Charlotte with the Hornets or in Greensboro with the G-League’s Swarm. The Kansas product is open to whatever the team needs from him, and whatever the coaches think is best for his development.

“Wherever I have to be, here or Greensboro, I’m just ready to play some ball, to be honest,” Graham said at media day Monday. “I want to always stay healthy. Come in and do my job. Make plays for others, knock down shots and have fun.”

A Raleigh native, Graham played four years at Kansas and was a two-time All-Big 12 selection for the Jayhawks, and the Big 12 Player of the Year as a senior. The Hornets selected him early in the second round, 34 overall, in the 2018 NBA Draft.

As a rookie last season, Graham struggled to break into the lineup early in the year. Of the first 65 games of the season, he only appeared in 31. But Graham – like teammate Dwayne Bacon – was open to going to Greensboro to get playing time with the Swarm in the G-League. He played well there, averaging 23.3 points, 4.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds per-game while shooting 38.3 percent from three point-range over 13 games.

And then, down the final stretch of the season, he earned minutes in the Hornets lineup as they battled for a playoff spot.

“We did a good job of not getting frustrated when we were sent down there,” Graham said of he and Bacon’s time in Greensboro. “It was more of, we wanted to go down, to get better, get game reps in, stay in shape. We went down there with a different mindset, just to stay hungry and stay working."

Graham played in 15 of the last 17 games of the season for the Hornets, averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 assists over 18.2 minutes per-game. Perhaps his best game came in a win over the Pelicans on April 3, where he tallied 13 points, five assists, two rebounds and a steal in 16 minutes.

Those were all crucial games too, as the Hornets were angling for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

In his second season, Graham is likely to assume the role of back-up point guard to newcomer Terry Rozier. But there might be some sets where the two share a back-court at the same time, like Graham and Kemba Walker did late last season.

Again, Graham is up for whatever and seems ready to embrace any role he's saddled with, as long as he's playing basketball.

“I’m excited. New year, new start, new team,” Graham said. “We’re young, but I’m really excited to get training camp started… It should be good. We both take pride in playing defense. We’re just going to have to lock in.”

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