Devonté Graham is still several weeks from potentially hearing his name called at the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21, but the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year is well aware of what awaits at the next level.
After spending his final season among the college ranks as one of the top talents in the country and ultimately, being honored as a consensus All-American, Graham will soon become a small fish in a big pond — the kind of pond in which virtually every other fish is bigger, faster, stronger, and boasts a much more polished game.
“I’m just trying to get in the best shape as possible,” Graham said on Friday, via KansasCity.com’s Gary Bedore. “My trainer told me I came in pretty good shape. I’m trying to get in NBA shape. It’s a faster shot clock, more physical. You’ve got to be in better shape. I have to get stronger, quicker, tighten up things (like) my shot, little things like that with my feet. It’s a different game. They move fast, but also slower at the same time. I’m trying to adjust to all that.”
Talent aside, the sheer grind that comes with the NBA should prove to be an obstacle Graham must overcome as a rookie. Throughout his final two seasons at Kansas, Graham appeared in 75 total games, which includes the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. A single NBA regular season schedule is 82 games, and should Graham find himself on a championship-caliber franchise, that total can easily creep upwards of 100 games.
Wisely, Graham has reached out to several current and former NBA players in hopes of advice on how to physically make the transition from college to the NBA.
“You’ve got to grind it out every day,” Graham said of the advice he’s received. “It’s not college any more. You are not representing a university. You are representing yourself. You have to figure how to take care of your body, do everything you need to do to make sure you are healthy and ready for these workouts and combine coming up.”
Graham’s latter sentiments are equally, if not more important than the advice that will prove valuable once he’s in the NBA.
On May 16, the 2018 NBA Draft Combine will get underway, which will afford Graham the opportunity to test and compete against 68 other NBA hopefuls. Graham will enter the event with mid-second round grade and where his trajectory goes from there will largely be based upon his combine showing and what he displays in individual team meetings and workouts.
Such workouts will quite likely test Graham physically beyond any typical practice he endured as a Jayhawk, but he knows that.
In the meantime, the latest great Kansas guard is doing what he can to assure he’s ready when that time comes.