Free Agent Watch: Jerami Grant

Free Agent Profile

Player: Jerami Grant

Current team: OKC Thunder

Current salary: $1,524,305

Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

Strengths

Grant entered the league as a high second round pick (39th overall) regarded as a hybrid forward who did not shoot well on the perimeter but did get to the line with ease due to his high motor. His athleticism and physical tools were seen as his key to minutes on the court early in his career, and he earned minutes during his time in Philadelphia, starting 52 games in his second season.

After bouncing around a bit, going to Toronto then back to Philadelphia, he landed with OKC. In the Thunder’s system, he has carved a niche as a spot starter and key role player, sometimes playing the 5 in the Thunder’s small lineups.

During this year’s playoffs, with Carmelo Anthony struggling, there were rumbles coming from the pundit circle claiming Grant should start and Anthony should come off the bench. This never happened, but Grant did average 22 minutes a game in the playoffs, shooting above 50% from the field taking about 6 shots per game. Still, the rationale for starting Grant was sound: he was a much better defender than Anthony and a threat to cut to the basket on offense.

Entering free agency, Grant has proven to be a coachable player who provides defensive versatility and the ability to finish at the rim. He’s been described as a Swiss Army Knife who can do a little bit of everything.

Weaknesses

Grant is listed as a power forward, but he has a slight frame that is bullied by stronger players. His length mitigates this somewhat (wingspan over 7-feet), but Grant’s body type and strength are issues exposed by teams with the right personnel.

His most glaring weakness is his outside shot. As a career 30% shooter from deep on limited attempts, he will not stretch his defender far from the paint. His shot from midrange (10-16 feet) looks nice on paper (50%), but this is a very limited part of his game, making up less than 3% of his shot attempts.

Projected Areas of Improvement

Going into his fifth year, one would expect Grant’s basketball IQ to improve, especially with consecutive seasons in the playoffs. At 24, he’s entering his physical prime, and because his shot mechanics are not broken, his jump shot consistency should improve if his role for a team evolves to take a few more shots outside of the paint.

Fit With The Pacers

If the Pacers target Grant, he would take minutes currently belonging to Trevor Booker. Pritchard has mentioned targeting players who can defend multiple positions, and that is Grant’s greatest strength. An active player, he would bolster the Pacers bench while providing a greater outside threat than Booker.

Signing Grant would be an indication that Leaf is destined to go to the end of the bench once more, delaying growth for the Pacers first round pick, but it would bring in a player who has the experience to contribute in a variety of ways on both ends of the court.

Lastly, he’s good friends with Victor Oladipo, and his demeanor on and off the court means he would be a positive presence in the locker room.

Final Thoughts

Grant would be a risk-free, low-cost option who would improve the athleticism and defensive versatility of the Pacers second unit. It’s likely he never develops a consistent outside shot, but his activity cutting to the basket and strength finishing around the rim would provide an offensive outlet. A projected contract offer this summer might look lie this: three years, fully guaranteed, $15 million. He could also gain the attention of a team over the cap who may try to entice him with a mid-level exception deal (around $8 million per season). At five million dollars per year, he would be making slightly more than a player like Lance Stephenson. His contract would end in the middle of his prime, potentially opening him up to a bigger payday if he continues to develop.

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