One year ago, there was no hesitation at all when it came to swiping right on Jerami Grant. The forward out of Syracuse represented a bright spot in another rebuild year by playing above most expectations. The question is, was there enough progression this year to warrant having Grant back next year, in an already crowded front court?
In my opinion, it's hard to really answer this question without knowing what other parts are moving or staying on the Sixers. We have absolutely no idea how this front court is going to shake out with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid presumably going all Highlander for the center spot. Carl Landry is the de facto veteran presence at the moment. Richaun Holmes is "Dunk Guy". Dario Saric is by all accounts going to make the move to Philly this summer.
Plus, there are a few draft prospects and free agents that may also end up cramming into the front court. New
GM Guy-Who-Is-Making-The-Decisions Bryan Colangelo has quite a few tough choices this summer in cutting out a 15-man roster. Let's just say that depending on team goals, there may be a few roster crunch casualties.
With all that said, when we look at Jerami, how close is he to being a real rotational player? Is he someone who could really thrive during the next phase of the rebuild?
If we're looking at progression from a player, I'm really not sure how to judge his second year in the league. In a way, Jerami has improved on exactly what we expected him to improve on based on his build, athleticism and skill set.
Defensively, he's one of the best non-center shot blockers in the game, ending at 11th in total blocks among all players in NBA. Whether it be one-on-one or as a weak side help, he's been a force and leading the league in "Give me that @#$%" moments. (Note: Grant also leads the league in "Getting robbed by referees in charge vs. blocking foul calls")
Offensively, well, let's start with the positives. While the explosive dunks are his calling card, Grant has developed a knack for attacking the basket in isolation. With his length and athleticism, it's not surprising that he's been able to find ways to get past defenders. Adding that nifty euro-step to his repertoire, for example, has been a real plus in facilitating his game. As a result, he's inevitably drawn more contact and, furthermore, improved at the line going from 59 percent to 66 percent at the charity stripe.
And then, there's this (via NBA Savant)...
There's no way to sugar coat it; Jerami needs to be able to hit threes. At the end of last year, there was a sense of optimism. For a guy that barely took them in college, shooting around 30 percent beyond the arc in his first year wasn't too shabby. However, everything about Jerami's three-point shooting was an eyesore. In fact, his shooting was so poor for periods that whether by his hesitancy or by command, his volume of shots decreased.
No matter how the roster shakes out, being a three-point threat will give Grant legitimacy in any lineup. As a defender, I have no worries. But, the name of the game these days is "spacing". Whether it be for his benefit or his teammates, being able to knock down a corner three with semi-regularity will do wonders on offense.
If it were up to me, I would have swiped right and already be making plans for the 2nd date. However, my dad didn't take the team over skype, hire me, and run away.