For the first time since the 2nd game of the season, Treveon Graham will be dressed and available Friday when the Brooklyn Nets meet the Memphis Grizzlies.
After a lengthy parade of Brooklyn Nets landing on the injured list, the trend will finally reverse itself on Friday as swingman Treveon Graham returns to the active list after missing 37 games with a left hamstring injury.
Graham signed a partially guaranteed two-year deal with the Nets in late July as an unrestricted free agent and impressed coach Kenny Atkinson with his defensive chops when he got minutes in the preseason.
Graham, at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, has the bulk to guard 4s and the quickness to cover 1-3 on the perimeter. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out with another adductor strain, Graham’s return gives the Nets a similar, if slightly smaller, switchy defender to work with.
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He was pronounced fit to return after playing 26 minutes on Wednesday for the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League. He scored 17 points with eight rebounds and three steals, hitting 6-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-5 from 3-point range in Long Island’s win over the Erie BayHawks.
It was Graham’s first action on the NBA’s developmental circuit since he played the 2015-16 season with the Idaho Stampede after going undrafted out of VCU in 2015.
Graham was injured on Oct. 19 when he pulled up while driving to the basket during Brooklyn’s home opener against the New York Knicks and the recovery period was lengthy, as Graham explained to the media via the Nets official website.
"“Had good communication between me and the performance staff. Understood it’s going to take a while. It’s something that happened before in my career and it’s something I don’t want to happen again. We were cautious in not just throwing me back into the game.“We found a happy medium where I felt comfortable and they felt comfortable for me to come back.”"
Graham got extensive playing time during the preseason as Hollis-Jefferson missed the entire four-game slate and DeMarre Carroll was out for the final two games.
He averaged 6.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals in 26.7 minutes during the exhibition slate, shooting 35.5 percent from the floor and 2-of-12 from 3-point range.
In 90 career games with the Charlotte Hornets over the last two seasons, Graham had averaged 3.7 points in 13.8 minutes on 44.1 percent shooting, with a 43.8 percent mark from deep.
In 27 minutes over the opening two games, Graham did not score and had four rebounds, going 0-for-3 and missing two 3-point tries.
He understands it’s a different team he is returning to, per Brian Heyman’s report for Newsday.
"“It was hard seeing my team play 37 games without me, but it was great to see them improve and get better and better as time went on. And now that I’m back, I just want to help them continue that path.”"
Atkinson thinks the return of Graham will help a defense that has been without Caris LeVert since mid-November and is now dealing with the absence of Hollis-Jefferson.
"“Not having Rondae, we need his toughness, activity, defensive presence. I think that will help our defense.”"
Brooklyn has been surging of late, with 10 wins in its last 13 games to improve to 18-21.
The Nets enter play Friday in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game in back of the Detroit Pistons (17-19) for the final playoff position, a game in back of the Charlotte Hornets (18-19) for seventh place and 1½ games behind the sixth-place Miami Heat (18-18).