Player Forecast on Treveon Graham
Position: Small Forward
Height: 6′ 6″
Weight: 226 pounds
Reasons for Optimism:
There may not be a more prototypical “Clifford” style player on the Hornets roster than Graham at this point. The young wing is exactly the kind of guy coach looks for. He is smart with the ball and typically makes the correct decision. Graham plays with a grittiness on defense and always hustles. He spent last season learning on the bench and was ready to contribute when his number was called upon. This year could be the time he becomes a regular rotation piece.
Treveon finished last year with two nice performances off the bench where he tallied 22 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals in 41 minutes of play. He shot 9-15 from the floor and looked like he was getting comfortable both offensively and defensively.
He was part of the summer league roster for the Hornets in Orlando. Fans and coaches alike were looking for a strong performance out of Traveon with Malik Monk injured and not playing and he didn’t disappoint. Treveon led the team in both scoring (17.7 PPG) and rebounding (8.3 RPG), while shooting 47.4 percent in the three games he played. This was exactly what you want from a veteran guy in summer league, basically confirming his maturation as an NBA player. The Hornets sat him for the last two games in Orlando, citing “hamstring tenderness” as the reason. Regardless, Graham did all he could to prove himself to the coaches and front office this summer.
Coach Stephen Silas comments on Treveon in an interview during summer league in Orlando:
“He is the kind of guy you love having around. He puts the work in, he’s done a good job this summer and it’s showed in the way he’s playing.”
The Hornets front office agreed, fully guaranteeing Graham’s contract for this season. However, that still leaves the question of will he actually get consistent minutes this season?
The Hornets lost Marco Belinelli off the bench from last year. While the team drafted Malik Monk, the lingering concerns of his ankle and Coach Clifford’s reluctance to rely on rookies leads me to believe that Traveon will have an opportunity to be part of the regular rotation. The current bench is lacking two things – shooting and defense. This happens to be Graham’s strengths.
I’m not ready to say Treveon is ready to become a true 3-and-D guy that we hear about so often in today’s NBA culture, but the truth is on this roster, he is the closest thing the Hornets have. Add to that the ongoing saga that is Jeremy Lamb’s career in Charlotte, who always seems one blown defensive assignment from being back in Coach Clifford’s famous doghouse, and there should be opportunity for Graham to get minutes off the bench.
Reasons for Pessimism:
There are still a lot of questions about whether Graham can consistently hit three-pointers because of a limited sample size. We also don’t know if he can play at a high level every night yet. The only other thing standing in Treveon’s way is other young players on the roster, guys like Monk and Bacon will likely get a few opportunities as well. If they both start out their careers on fire, they could pass by him on the depth chart.
Number to Know:
This is the number of games Graham played more than 10 minutes last season. If the depth chart shakes out how I think it will, I can see him blowing by that number before we are sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner.
If Graham gets rewarded for his hard work this off-season with some early season minutes, I can see him becoming a 12 to 15 minutes per night guy off the bench to help space the floor and provide some defensive intensity for the bench unit. He is the kind of guy you can’t help but pull for as a fan, and he is the exact type of guy Coach Clifford loves to see succeed.