Jerami Grant has the physical tools, motor and aggression to thrive in the NBA, but his basketball skills are far from polished. Can his broken shot be fixed and can his perimeter game evolve enough to propel him to a bright future?
DOB: 3/12/1994 (20 years old)
Sophomore Season Statistics:
That donut hole under his three point percentage isn't a typo. He just flat out didn't shoot threes at the college level.
NBA Draft Combine:
I've included the combine measurements of two other players that came to mind when I was pondering how Grant's career might unfurl. I'm going to delve into this later, but let me preface those comparisons by stating that Grant might be lucky to achieve the level of success of either of these players. The macabre recollection of Warrick's one dimensionality belies the fact that he carved out a respectable eight year career while netting over $20 million dollars in earnings. Rollin J. Mason's recent story detailed just a few out of a multitude of players who recently busted spectacularly, showing that Warrick was far from that level of failure.
Draft Express - 27 (Suns)
NBADraft.net - 24
HoopsHype - 22
NBA.com - 25
NBA Draft Insider - 32
Some people don't like this practice, but I'm not trying to proclaim that Grant is the next "insert player X here". This is only intended to be a frame of reference for those people (Jim raises hand) that haven't watched thousands of hours of film on college players. I'm not saying an apple is the next orange, only that they're both round and they're both fruit.
Here's a scouting report from Draft Express:
A world class athlete, lightning quick and an unbelievable leaper... Runs the floor extremely well, and will often beat his man up the floor... His outside shooting has a long way to go, will really need to work on this skill to eventually become a starting caliber NBA Small Forward... Syracuse plays a lot of zone defense, so it is hard to predict just how good of a man to man defender he will be... Needs to bulk up significantly...
Sounds like Grant, right? These are actually excerpts from a NBA Draft Scouting Report on Hakim Warrick.
Here's their take on Grant:
He has excellent size for a small forward, standing 6' 8" in shoes with a huge 7' 2.75" wingspan... Quick, fluid, and exceptionally explosive around the rim, Grant nearly aces the eye test... Grant has questionable mechanics and is not an intimidating threat away from the basket at this point in his career... (Defensively) he has terrific potential thanks to his size and lateral quickness, but looked green at times playing in the back line of Syracuse's 2-3 zone....
I'm not trying to make Grant out to be a carbon copy of Warrick, but there are similarities and the comparison seems easy considering their common alma mater.
How about Thaddeus Young? He's another player with approximately the same measurables, but he showed more offensive potential entering the NBA at an even younger age than Grant. Maybe another offensively limited player like Corey (I can't believe he scored 51 points in a game) Brewer? Brewer is much thinner than any of these players, but faced (and still faces to a degree) the same ball handling and shooting issues.
Scouting Report and Workout Quotes
I pulled all of these from Sean Sullivan's workout coverage of Phoenix Suns' prospects on June 3.
"I think it was hard to evaluate him as a shooter in the season, just because he really didn't get a lot of spot up opportunities. We knew he could roll and finish lobs, and finish around the rim. His length and athleticism are pretty freakish. He had some really impressive finishes over the top, today, and made a few athletic plays that no many guys can make, especially at that age. The transition from the power forward to the small forward is a difficult one, and sometimes can take a few years...but he has the physical tools. He has the length, athleticism, and bounce to make that work."
"He's the first one to say 'I'm working on that part of my game'. It might take him a few years to get out there, but I think at some pointhe could even be a stretch-four guy, as long as he keeps working on that shot."
On his shooting:
"It definitely needs to get better...It's improving, but it definitely needs to get a lot better in order to play in the NBA, but I definitely think it's getting there."
On his fit with the team:
"I think my athleticism fits in well with the organization...being able to run the court, being an athletic wing, I think it definitely fits in with this organization."
Can Jerami Grant learn to shoot?
That seems to be the Gordian knot standing in the way of a promising career. But before you are possessed by the epiphany that Jeff Hornacek wields the sword of shooting tutelage I would urge caution. Not everyone can learn to shoot.
If it was just about instruction and effort just about every player in the NBA would be a sharpshooter. Unfortunately, the amount a person can improve is subject to a case by case basis. There is no panacea... but there's always a ceiling.
It's just like with hair regrowth. A lot of the time it doesn't work. How do we know it doesn't work? Because if there was a way that always worked and regrew full heads of thick hair then everyone would be using it and the person that perfected it would be making billions and billions of dollars. Instead men piddle away money on a nostrum that exploits their insecurities.
With the way the game is evolving a small forward that can't shoot the three will have a hard time finding his niche. Grant is fully cognizant of this fact and his shortcomings. Hopefully his motor will give him the pertinacity, he'll get the right instruction and he'll have the aptitude to improve.
Because otherwise a team will get stuck with erami Grant... the guy with no J.