NBA rookie Devonte’ Graham is headed to the G League — at least for a few days.
Charlotte general manager Mitch Kupchak announced the move for the second-round draft pick out of Kansas on Tuesday, a little more than a week after Graham made his Hornets debut.
According to The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, Hornets coach James Borrego said Wednesday Graham will play for the franchise’s Greensboro affiliate for at least the first two games of the Swarm’s season.
Graham played in his first career NBA game on Oct. 22 at Toronto, spending less than six minutes on the court and going shot-less and scoreless with one assist.
The 6-foot-2 point guard got an extended look this past Saturday, when he scored his first points as a professional, finishing with seven in 13 minutes off the bench in a loss at Philadelphia. Graham knocked down one of his three 3-point attempts against the Sixers for his first bucket, shot three of six overall and dished a pair of assists.
To date, Graham was inactive (didn’t suit up) for four of the Hornets’ eight games and did not play in two others.
Moving Graham to the G League comes as no surprise, as he’s playing behind an all-star in Kemba Walker and a savvy veteran in Tony Parker. It also doesn’t mean that Graham will spend the whole year in Greensboro.
Plus, it actually allows the rookie to get some valuable in-game reps against G League competition, rather than watching from the bench with Charlotte. And the Hornets can bring him back whenever they want to further test him at the NBA level or perhaps even provide Parker, 36, with a night off.
As a second-round draft pick, Graham reportedly signed a three-year contract with the Hornets for approximately $1.3 million per year, with the first two years guaranteed.
And, because the Hornets are owned by Michael Jordan, Graham also gets some perks in the form of a basically unlimited supply of Jordans — as he showed off recently on Instagram.
The Charlotte Hornets — owners of the No. 9 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft — had Kelly Oubre Jr. in for an individual workout Thursday. It marked the first such session for the one-and-done small forward from Kansas, who got to show off his athleticism, wingspan and potential for a team’s coaches without other potential draftees sharing the coveted spotlight.
Afterward, the lottery hopeful told Charlotte-area media he showed the Hornets everything he can do as a player.
“Hopefully they’re pleased. You know, I believe they are,” the ever-confident Oubre said in an interview posted on the Hornets’ website. “This is an organization I could see myself thriving in, as well. I can come in immediately and make an impact — whether just pushing my teammates, my future teammates, or being an impact on the court immediately. I’m just trying to maximize all my opportunities and be the best player I can be.”
Previously, Oubre worked out with other draftees-to-be for the Pacers and Suns, for example. The 6-foot-7, 200-pound wing thought he performed well under pressure, and told The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell he didn’t request to have a solo workout.
“I was informed I was going to be the only one on the court, and I didn’t argue,” Oubre said. “All eyes (were) on me. That felt good; I got to show out a little bit.”
Oubre considers himself mature for his age (19), and said his “supporting cast” — his parents, Kelly Oubre Sr. and Tonya Coleman Oubre — was behind him 100 percent when he decided to leave KU after one season of college basketball. As he has alluded to previously, Oubre said he thinks he can thrive in the NBA with his length (7-2 wingspan) and the ability to play more in open space at the next level.
“I have a lot of learning to do, and I’m willing to focus on basketball solely and dedicate myself to the game,” Oubre said. “I don’t have any other distractions. The game of basketball is everything to me now, and I’m committing the time to be the best player that I can be.”
The Hornets also posted video highlights from portions of Oubre’s workout on their team site.
Oubre showcased his:
• cross-over and pull-up jumper
• perimeter spin move en route to the lane
• fade-away, Dirk Nowitzki-esque jumper off one foot
• 3-point shooting from the left corner, left wing and top of the key
• ability to move from block to block in repetition, pick up a basketball on each side of the paint and jam it home
• conditioning (again), by running from sideline to sideline and finishing alley-oops in between
Oubre told reporters in Charlotte he also has workouts scheduled with Denver (7th pick), Detroit (8th pick) and Utah (12th pick). Plus, he’s trying to finalize a workout with Miami (10th pick).
On Chad Ford’s list of top 100 draft prospects at ESPN.com, Oubre currently sits at No. 12.
The Hornets played shooting guard Gerald Henderson and small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist the most minutes per game at the wing positions this past season, and Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor are the only two players on the current roster listed as small forwards. So if Oubre really did impress Charlotte — and the organization’s decision-makers think he can become a consistent 3-point shooting threat (the Hornets shot a league-worst 31.8% from downtown in 2014-15) — Oubre at No. 9 makes some sense.
Charlotte desperately needs some scoring/shooting, though, to compliment the interior scoring of Al Jefferson. Lance Stephenson didn’t make nearly the impact anticipated after the Hornets signed the former Pacer last summer. Oubre didn’t look like much of a go-to scorer or shooter at Kansas — 9.3 points, 34-for-95 from 3-point range. The Hornets will have to agree with the youngster about his ability to thrive in The Association to take an unproven scorer with a top-10 pick.
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