It’s been just over two months since Jerry Colangelo loved Jerami Grant so much, he sent the bouncy, rawer-than-a-spicy-tuna-roll tweener free. The Sixers swapped Grant on Nov. 1 for Ersan Ilyasova and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 1-20 protected 2020 first round pick.
Through 31 games in OKC, Grant is essentially posting his career-average numbers per 36 minutes, but has thrived alongside Westbrook, shooting 42.2 percent from three on 45 attempts.
The writers of Liberty Ballers don’t have much else to do, so to spare you a longer introduction, the following is a quick roundtable discussion reflecting on the transaction some 60 days removed.
I thought the trade was a bit bland and unimaginative at the time and I mostly hate it now. A lot of that has to do with how Philly never had a chance to properly utilize Jerami (kinda out of their control given the roster) but he's flourished in OKC and I'm not exactly thrilled with Ersan so far.
Has he flourished in OKC, though? I’m seriously asking—I’m not going to pretend I watch a lot of that team. But his stats look nearly identical on a percentage basis to how they did with the Sixers, only he’s being asked to do less, so his creation and TO’s have dropped. He’s shooting well from distance, but it’s probably fool’s gold a la January 2015, especially given his FT% is below 60% on the year.
I realized "flourished" was the wrong word the moment I hit send, but he's been put in the kind of idealized role I always wanted to see him play in Philadelphia. I remember mentioning on the Hoop76 account maybe this time last year that I'd like to see him get burn at the 5, and immediately like four people responded to me saying that's crazy/he's too small/etc. Now he routinely (I haven't had a chance to watch them so much yet this year either, but anytime I do watch them) gets minutes as a backup 5.
And they even experimented with him running the pick-and-roll when he got there, which I always thought was a missed opportunity in Philly last year: not only is he fairly adept at drive/kicking, but it would've been nice to have an alternative last year when, you know, Ish Smith was running the offense and chucking 10 misses per game. His numbers as a PnR ball handler have fallen off it seems (expected considering Russ runs everything in OKC), but Jerami has the kind of athleticism/skillset that is worth toying around with. In Philadelphia he was basically your typical small-ball 4 who didn't really get to showcase his athleticism or ball skills, but as a 5 with shot-blocking/ball handling ability he can be a terrific backup big/7thish man. Maybe like a Walmart version of what Dario at the 5 is for the Sixers now?
If I'm not mistaken, Jerami has played all three front court positions at times for OKC. The trade is/was fine even if the Sixers are way too reliant on Ersan, since especially now Jerami would have struggled for playing time.
I guess it's more about optics than anything else. Watching him tear the rim down and swat a shot into the stands on Christmas and then playing as a small-ball four next to Enes Kanter in Miami last night, I got really nostalgic. He's just so entertaining to watch. I tweeted it last night: He might be a Top 50 most entertaining player in the entire NBA, no? You just never know what he's going to do. He could finish a ridiculous one-handed alleyoop or dribble a sure-fire fastbreak off his face and out of bounds. I miss that a hell of a lot when Ersan Ilyasova incessantly launches head fake, one-dribble, step-back threes.
When the trade went down, my initial thought was Ilyasova will of course spread the floor and there's no guarantee Grant ever materializes into anything legitimate. But man do I miss those wild nights.
Agree with Marc. Also, not sure what else was to be expected of Ersan. Just a source of spacing who's opened up the floor for the best player on the team when none of their other front-court players have shown a reliable ability to provide that yet.
Grant was mostly useless here given the team construct and probably made them actively worse in the half-court offensively (don't have the numbers in front of me, but seems pretty obvious). And they still managed to get solid return for him. I have no beefs with any of it really.
I don't mind Illyasova at all for helping out the young guys (although there's games where I wish he'd take like two or three less shots), but I grind my teeth anytime he's not on the floor with Embiid. I couldn't care any less about the Okafor-Ersan pairing because neither of those guys have significant long-term futures here, and that's time that easily could be going to Saric/Holmes/Noel. If it persists once Simmons returns and ultimately cuts into Saric's playing time then, to me, it's reached the point of unnecessary pervasiveness.
I don't have an issue with the pieces individually: Ersan helps the prospects if used correctly and Jerami was never gonna materialize to anything here anyway. But the totality of the deal leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm not particularly sure what the endgame with Ersan is here—the Sixers either traded Jerami (who could've progressed into a better asset, maybe not) for about 70 games of a spot-up shooter or we extend Ersan on a team where there isn't a frontcourt minute to spare. And I like the idea of "Ersan Illyasova, 15-20MPG floor-spacer," but I'm not sure that Ersan Illyasova likes that.
I do think it’s important to note that the Sixers didn’t trade Jerami for about 70 games of Ersan, even if he walks this summer (which I hope he does). The Sixers also got a potential late 1st or two 2nd’s out of the deal. I would never have guessed Jerami was worth that on his own, let alone that plus Ilyasova.
The picks are huge, even if that Thunder pick is going to be in the late 20s. That was incredible value.
In a way I would've preferred just getting the picks. I see Ersan's on-court value but I don't trust that Bryan will handle him in a way where it won't cut into valuable playing time. If he's getting about 27mpg even two months from now I'll see the deal as a failure on our end.