Charlotte Hornets small forward Treveon Graham will miss all five of the team’s preseason exhibitions with a strained left hamstring. That would be a be a big hindrance to him having any impact early in the regular season, except for one thing:
Graham is among the most studious of this team’s players.
Coach Steve Clifford has praised Graham, in his second NBA season out of Virginia Commonwealth, for his grasp of the team’s offensive and defensive sets. Clifford said Thursday that whenever Graham is well enough physically to play, he knows he can count on the 6-foot-5 forward to be up to speed mentally.
That’s inherent to Graham’s makeup. He played every position but center in college, so he knows basketball nuance in the nature of a coach.
“That’s what I tried to show (last season): That even when I don’t play, I’ll be ready,” Graham said Thursday. “Whenever they did put me in the game, I knew the plays and I knew the defensive sets. That’s just something I’ve always been good at.”
Graham said watching practice obviously isn’t the same as practicing, but it still matters.
“We put in new things every day. If you can’t do it, then you can at least see it, so that when you do get back out there, you know where you’re supposed to be,” Graham said. “I don’t want to come back and have them have to slow the practice down just for me.”
Graham isn’t cleared to scrimmage, but he does feel like his hamstring is healing.
“I did a lot of drills to stretch the hamstring out and see how it feels,” Graham said. “It feels pretty good. I haven’t felt much pain or tightness in the last couple of days.”
With Nic Batum, Michael Carter-Williams and Jeremy Lamb hurt, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist away from the team for a personal matter, Graham would certainly be playing if he was available for the last exhibition, at home Friday against the Dallas Mavericks.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell