The 2019-20 NBA season isn’t “over” but, with the coronavirus pandemic placing the season in a suspended mode, there is a distinct chance that the Atlanta Hawks won’t be playing again this season. With that as the backdrop, the Peachtree Hoops crew will look back at the players still on the roster and how they performed in the team’s first 67 games.
The fifth edition centers on soon-to-be free agent forward Treveon Graham.
26-year-old forward Treveon Graham was acquired by the Atlanta Hawks in the January trade that sent Allen Crabbe to Minnesota and brought Jeff Teague, along with Graham, to Atlanta. The main haul of the trade was supposed to be Teague’s ability to stabilize the Hawks as a backup point guard, but Graham was a piece nonetheless.
In short, the Hawks lacked anything resembling a backup point guard early in the 2019-20 season, and Teague was perceived as a godsend in that regard upon arrival, but things did not quite play out that way. Graham, a strong, athletic 6’5 wing defender, has bounced around the league so far in his career. He would be a perfect ‘3-and-D’ guy, if only he could knock down the three-point shot with consistency.
Through four seasons, Graham has shot just 33% from the three-point line, and that number is slightly inflated by his 2017-18 campaign in which he shot 41% from behind the arc in 63 games for Charlotte. Graham was solid enough in terms of shooting in 22 games for Atlanta this season, shooting 35% but on a low volume of 1.7 attempts per game. He mainly takes threes and layups, so if he can maintain a mid-30s percentage, he does fit the Atlanta system by not needing the ball.
Whether or not he can consistently space the floor likely determines if he becomes a rotation player in the NBA.
One thing Graham always provides is tremendous effort. He was one of the better wing defenders on the roster, perhaps the best one after Cam Reddish. The veteran is a physical presence for wings to deal with, and his effort in transition sometimes thwarts what appear to be easy fast breaks for the opponent.
Graham is actually an exciting player when transition occurs, on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he flies down the floor with his speed and fills lanes, often being available for a layup or a tip-in if he’s trailing.
Treveon Graham give the Hawks a jolt on both ends. pic.twitter.com/qDJ2w41D1N— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 23, 2020
Defensively, his speed and physicality allow him to cut off long passes or stay with anyone off the dribble. If Graham could shoot, he would be a coveted player in today’s NBA landscape. The fact the Hawks didn’t just cut him on arrival shows they at least believed enough to get a look, and quite frankly, he did provide depth, especially defensively, that they sorely needed on the wing. Given the offensive prowess of Trae Young and John Collins, one could argue Graham should have played more to give the Hawks more of a chance defensively.
Going forward, Graham is likely just what he was for Atlanta in 2020, wing depth. He could be back for the Hawks, but given the playoff declarations made early this month, it’s likely to be as a 12th or 13th man, opposed to being the third or fourth guy off the bench like he was a lot of the time for Atlanta this season.
With his general lack of prolific shooting ability and/or offensive creation, it’s going to be tough for a team with an eye on the playoffs to promise Graham an established role for next season. He is most likely going to be in store for another year of floating towards the end of a team’s bench, waiting for an opportunity to prove he’s improved his perimeter shooting.
So far, Graham hasn’t be able to find that consistency, but his ability to play defense and run the floor probably keeps the 26-year old in the association for at least another season, whether back in Atlanta or otherwise.