On Thursday night the Washington Wizards selected senior point guard Jerian Grant with the 19th pick. He was inmediately to the Hawks in exchange for 15th pick Kelly Oubre. That same night, Grant was traded to the Knicks, who sent former first round pick Tim Hardaway Jr to Atlanta.
Not much has been talked about this move, not even in New York City, where media outlets are too busy bashing Phil Jackson's main election on Draft night, Latvian Kristaps Porzingis. However, I have various reasons to think Grant has been overlooked by several franchises and that he will be a solid contributor and a starting point guard at the next level, for a 19th pick, I think that is a steal.
Size. At 6'5 Grant will have excellent size as an NBA point guard. He has shown he knows how to use this advantage by shooting and passing over smaller defenders, as well as making plays from the low block, an underrated and unusual skill amongst point guards today.
Passing. Without question one of the most effective passers in this year's Draft. His 7'3 assists per 40 were one of the best in the NCAA, his assist-to-turnover ratio was the third best amongst this year's prospects. He is always looking to push the ball up the court and find shooters and thrives in pick&roll situations, which play a vital role in any NBA team's offensive scheme.
Creates offense. His quick first step, ability to change speeds and court vision make him an ideal player to create scoring opportunities for himself and for his teammates.
Basketball IQ. Four years of college basketball paired with former NBA players within his family make up for a very smart player. Although he can improve certain fundamentals, mainly tighten his handles, he is fundamentally sound and will grasp Phil Jackson's triangle offense quickly.
On the downside of his game, Grant must improve certain aspects if he wants to excel in the NBA.
Inconsistent shooting. Firstly, he must gain consistency in his shot. His shooting mechanics are solid, so I think it will be a matter of repetition rather than fundamentals.
Finishing at the rim. Despite his size, his vertical leap is average. During his senior season, he shot a poor 46'8% at the rim in 14 games against teams that made the NCAA tournament. However, he shot 74'1% at the rim in 24 games against non-NCAA Tournament squads. Basically, the guy can finish, just not against the elite defenders and rim protectors he will encounter in the NBA. This flaw in his game can be fixed by working to strengthen his upper body, which will enable him to absorb contact and finish in traffic at a higher success rate.
Man to man defense. The former Notre Dame point guard has quick feet and a considerable wingspan, but his lack of strength and willingness to play defense will translate into problems when guarding NBA point guards, which is by far the position with the most talented players at the next level.
Why is he a steal then?
His basketball IQ and passing ability will be key in a team full of shooters at almost every spot. His size will also enable him to play as a shooting guard if he has to share the floor with a smaller point guard, like Jose Calderón or Shane Larkin.
After four years at Notre Dame Grant is ready to step into a starting point guard role for the New York Knicks. An aging and often injured Jose Calderon and an inefficient Shane Larkin do not seem enough of a threat to avoid Grant making the starting lineup and playing 20+ minutes frow day one. Abundant playing time and improving his shot will make him one of the best players in this year's Draft when it is all said and done.