Q&A with Devonte' Graham: "I'll be whatever Coach Pop needs me to be"

Mar 26, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Devonte' Graham (4) dribbles the
Mar 26, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Devonte' Graham (4) dribbles the / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs landing the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft woke up basketball fans and commentators concerned about the organization's future. Conversations began brewing on whether or not San Antonio had the proper accommodations on the court to support a prospect as prolific as Victor Wembanyama.

Fans who paid attention last season have been trying to debunk the theory that the Spurs are ill-prepared to take advantage of this opportunity to usher in the next Spurs dynasty. San Antonio has vigorously equipped itself with invaluable pieces, making a significant shift this past trade deadline. Devonte' Graham was a key acquisition from last season's swaps, and the sharpshooting point guard shared his perspective on transitioning to the Silver and Black in an exclusive interview with me over Memorial Day weekend.

What were the similarities and differences between the roles you played on the Hornets, Pelicans, and Spurs?

"It's funny because I have had this conversation with my friends. I haven't had the same role one season in the NBA. Rookie year I was a DNP/ G- League guy. [I would] play here and there, make sure I get Kemba [Walker] the ball, and make sure the lead increases when I come in or vice versa. In year two I started off as a backup. That turned into a starting role, me being the main ball handler averaging 18 and 8 having a breakout season. In year three [The Charlotte Hornets] drafted [LaMelo Ball] and [my role] goes back to coming off the bench and a different role there. In year four I go to the Pelicans and start out in the starting lineup on a struggling team with a new coach. [The Pelicans] end up making trades putting me and [CJ McCollum] on the bench mid-season. Year 5 was kind of a struggle until the trade. I was barely playing with the Pelicans, and being traded was a crazy experience but I enjoyed the end of the season with the new young group of guys and coaching staff."

Did you feel the need to live up to the hype surrounding your first performance after scoring the most points by any player in their Spurs debut (31)?

"No, I don't think there was any hype. I was just happy to be able to be on the court and playing again. It was a tough situation and transition from the Pelicans but that first game took a lot of pressure and stress off my back personally"

Do you believe fans questioning your ability to continue being a consistent scorer is fair after transitioning to a rebuilding squad so late in the season?

"I never get into what people say and people's opinions. I've been through so much in my career from high school to college, and now going into my sixth season as a pro. Everything I've accomplished and been through I've been able to be of my mind. Listening to the people who I know are in my corner, and want what's best for me. Also, me believing in myself and my work. "

What are you doing this offseason to get back to 100 percent? What are your focus areas right now?

"Every off season is a grind, get stronger, get better. I'm working on strengthening injuries that happened during the season, extending my three point range, work on my mid-range and floaters."

Going into your sixth year in the NBA, what type of player do you see yourself evolving into?

"Whatever Coach Pop needs me to be"

Fans are considerably interested in where Graham fits into the team's continuously developing structure. He has a knack for shooting pull-up threes and can stop on a dime in transition and let one fly. He's swift on his feet and can lose defenders off the dribble. All are assets San Antonio should take advantage of. If Graham develops and consistently finishes at the basket, there is no doubt he will be an instrumental force within the Spurs' rotation.

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