DEVONTE’ GRAHAM 2018 NBA Draft Scouting Report
WEIGHT: 180 POUNDS
POSITION: POINT GUARD
PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: ANYWHERE FROM PICKS 30-45 IN SECOND ROUND
It’s been one of those rare years for the Kansas Jayhawks, where the team doesn’t have a sure-fire NBA prospect whom scouts have spent the season drooling over. But don’t tell that to senior guard Devonte’ Graham.
After taking the mantle as the team’s starting point guard and undisputed team leader from Frank Mason III (who graduated last year), Graham was named an All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year for his play this season. His 17.4 points per game and 7.4 assists per game lead the Jayhawks this season. In the Big 12 Tournament finals, he had 13 assists (along with 18 points), setting up his teammates all afternoon as the Jayhawks beat West Virginia University.
Early in the season, Graham had back-to-back games with 35 points, the latter of which came against Syracuse University. In a hard fought battle against Clemson University in the NCAA Tournament, Graham had 16 points, five assists, and four rebounds, helping Kansas advance to the Elite Eight for the second-straight year.
As far as his playing style, Graham is as well-rounded of a point guard as you’ll find in the nation. He’s a reliable shooter from virtually any spot on the floor, with a solid midrange jumper and dangerous three-point shot as well. He can shoot off the dribble, displaying a polished understanding of how to use his dribble and his body to get separation to get off a shot. He might actually be even better coming off screens and taking his shot, as he’s adept at running the pick-and-roll in either capacity.
And yet, having said all of that, Graham might actually be an even better distributor and playmaker than he is a pure shooter. He can handle the ball as well as anyone, and run his offense like a true floor general. His primary instinct is to set up his teammates, and he utilizes his superior court vision in doing so, whether it’s a pocket pass, deftly feeding a cutting big man, or rifling a cross-court pass to an open shooter.
So why aren’t we talking about Graham as a lottery pick? For one, Graham is a senior. In this day and age, that’s not necessarily viewed as a positive anymore, because scouts are worried about just how much more potential he has to unlock (compared to someone who’s only 19 years old). His age (23) and athletic ability (or the perceived lack thereof) are considered to be significant red flags.
He’s not the explosive athlete that NBA teams are looking for, as he doesn’t have the elite movement ability or first step that you see from other prized prospects. Further, his lack of height (6’2) and bulk (180lbs) don’t translate well at the next level. That will likely lead to him being a significant liability on the defensive end in the pro’s, especially since he wasn’t a superior defender in college.
Still, with Graham’s pedigree, savvy, and intangibles, it’s very likely some team will draft him in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Graham should be selected anywhere from picks 30-45 in the June Draft and has the capability of eventually being a solid back-up NBA point guard.