3 ways in which Devonte' Graham is a better fit than Lonzo Ball for the New Orleans Pelicans

Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets
Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets

Devonte' Graham arrived in New Orleans from the Charlotte Hornets. That happened as part of the trade that saw the New Orleans Pelicans send Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe to the Memphis Grizzlies, The 2021-22 NBA season will be the fourth in Graham's career, and he has shown progression in some areas over the years.

Essentially, Graham should take the starting role as the point guard after Lonzo Ball's sign-and-trade deal with the Chicago Bulls. Devonte' Graham arrived at the Pelicans via a sign-and-trade, inking a four-year, $47-million contract.

Devonte' Graham could be a better fit for the New Orleans Pelicans than Lonzo Ball

Devonte’ Graham is a 36.4% career shooter.His 37.7 FG% last season was the worst by any player with 650+ attempts.As a comparison, his new teammate shot 61.1%.

Last year, the New Orleans Pelicans finished the season in 11th place with a 31-41 record in the Western Conference. They missed the play-In positions, but have a chance to make the postseason this year.

Graham is arriving at a team that had a decent offense last year (12th in the NBA). So he could add another dimension to a team that already has two pillars in offense, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

Devonte' Graham a better fit than Lonzo Ball, who spent two seasons with the Pels. On that note, here are three reasons why Graham is a better fit than Ball. Without further ado, let's get started.

#3 Devonte' Graham's free-throw shooting could help the New Orleans Pelicans improve in that category

Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets.
Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets.

In the 2020-21 NBA season, the New Orleans Pelicans ranked 29th in the league in free-throw shooting percentage, tallying 72.9% from the charity stripe.

Lonzo Ball showed huge improvement from the free-throw line last year, with a career-high 78.1%. But Devonte' Graham has been much better in that regard. He is 82.2% for his entire career, and recorded a career-high of 84.2% last year.

Moreover, Ball attempted only 1.2 attempts from the foul line per game last year, while Graham went to the line 2.9 times per outing.

#2 Graham is a better catch-and-shoot player than Ball

Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets
Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets

The New Orleans Pelicans' offense is guided by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. As both have higher Usage Ratings, the rest of the offense naturally plays off them.

With a dominant player like Williamson and a volume scorer like Ingram, an All-Star, in the Pelicans' offense, the others will have to be effective in catch-and-shoot situations.


Lonzo Ball made 38.9% and 40.2% of his threes in the last two seasons, respectively. Devonte' Graham, meanwhile, has made 42% of his catch-and-shoot three-pointers in the last two seasons. It is a marginal improvement on Ball, but an improvement nonetheless.

Graham is not the most efficient shooter overall. But his three-point shooting is definitely top-notch, and has been consistent since his breakout year in the 2019-20 NBA season.

#1 Devonte' Graham is already used to not being the first or second option in offense

Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets
Devonte' Graham with the Charlotte Hornets

Devonte' Graham averaged 14.8 points per game last year. But he could give the New Orleans Pelicans a little more in the 2021-22 NBA season.

In the Charlotte Hornets' offense last year, Graham was not one of the main weapons in offense. He ranked fourth in the team for field-goal attempts and fifth in Usage Percentage.

Devonte Graham joked that he may have stopped at the 4-point line a couple times during 5-on-5 work today. “It’s good for spacing. I just have to remember it’s not the real line sometimes.”…

Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball were definitely ahead of Devonte' Graham in the Charlotte Hornets' offense last year. But Graham performed well in that offense, averaging 5.4 assists per game (second-most in the team).

For the Pelicans' offense in the upcoming 2021-22 NBA season, Graham could be donning a similar role. He could also perform that better than Lonzo Ball did last year.

Graham has proven to be a good offensive player in the last two seasons, with or without the ball in his hands. He led the team in Usage Percentage in the 2019-20 NBA season and was good in offense. He did the same last year too, while only being fifth in that category.

Career three-pointers per 75 possessions1. Duncan Robinson (4.3)2. Troy Daniels (4.1)3. Stephen Curry and Steve Novak (4.0)5. Buddy Hield (3.8)6. Davis Bertans (3.7)7. Immanuel Quickley and Mirza Teletovic (3.6)9. Devonte' Graham and Georges Niang (3.5)

In his last two seasons, Graham has averaged 16.6 points and 6.5 assists per game, while playing different roles. He put up 38/37/82 shooting splits for the last two years.

His 38% field-goal percentage, one of the worst in the league, can be explained by the fact that out of his 13.8 shots taken per game in the last two seasons, nine came from beyond the arc.

You may also like: 3 areas where New Orleans Pelicans improved in the 2021 NBA offseason.

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Edited by Bhargav
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