1-on-1 With Charlotte Hornets’ Devonte’ Graham: ‘I Definitely Felt a Little Disrespect’
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images. Pictured: Devonte Graham.
Devonte’ Graham went from a second-round pick to the G-League to one of the staples of the Charlotte Hornets’ future. Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) sat down with Graham to discuss his path to the NBA and more.
Rob Perez, The Action Network: You were named Big 12 Player of the Year two years in a row and First Team All-America, but your name doesn’t come up in the first round on draft night. Can you take me through the emotion of that evening? Did you feel disrespected at all and have you used it as motivation to get you to the point that you’re at today?
Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Hornets: Well, my agent was pretty straightforward with me, telling me, “You could go anywhere from 28 to 45.” And I definitely felt a little disrespect there from some of the people who were picked before me. You just use it as fuel that motivates you, just try to prove people wrong.
RP: Once you make it to the bigs, all that’s waiting in front of you on the depth chart is Tony Parker and Kemba Walker. What did you learn playing alongside them?
DG: I learn from watching, so I would just sit there and during the games, I’m watching Tony, I’m watching Kemba, I’m watching how aggressive they are and how they never lose confidence in their shot, even if they miss it. Tony was such a good leader by talking to guys in the huddle, calling out plays, [being a] floor general and being selfless. I still watch Kemba and what he’s doing in Boston, just how he finishes around the basket and stuff like that. I’ll continue to watch him, too.
RP: Now that he’s in Boston, you’re the man now. I mean it’s just a fact that you’re the guy. You’re the floor general for this team. Do you feel any pressure to be his successor? What’s going through your mind now that you’ve gone from a second-round pick to starting point guard this quickly?
DG: I mean it’s just, you got to perform. You want it. You dream of this opportunity: getting drafted, being able to play, being able to play a lot of minutes, being able to play a lot of games. I kind of had that main primary ball-handling role at Kansas my last year, so that was a lot of pressure, too, but I don’t look at it as pressure. Just go have fun, and I got a good group of guys around me, so we just go out and play.
RP: What was your “Holy shit, I’m in the NBA!” moment?