After trading him to the OKC Thunder almost two years ago, ex-Philadelphia 76ers forward Jerami Grant has quietly developed into a starting caliber big man.
Two years later, it clearly was, only for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That’s right, even though our Ilyasova was an amazing addition to the 2016-2017 Sixers, adding a smooth outside shot to the starting five and helping to ease Dario Saric‘s transition from European superstar to NBA starter, he only lasted 53 games in the red white and blue before once again being shipped out of town, this time to the Atlanta Hawks for a future second-round pick.
Grant, on the other hand, has flourished in his new home.
After spending his first two years in the league as a rangy small forward in Philly, the Thunder transitioned the then-third year forward into the paint, and quietly developed him into one of the better defensive power forwards in the league. Though he’s a bit slight for a true power forward at only 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, and lacks a polished offensive game of a true two-way player, Grant’s defensive dominance has surely transitioned into his new position, and he now finds himself one of the most athletic players in the league at the four spot.
A major boon for a team that likes to play fast.
After Andre Robinson suffered a season-ending injury in January and Carmelo Anthony started to break down as the Thunder’s starting power forward, Grant quickly found himself insert it into the team’s starting five down the stretch and looked like a perfect complement to Russell Westbrook‘s do-it-all offensive playing style over the back half of the season. In a league where having that versatility to switch off on opposing defenders is becoming more and more valuable, Grant ability to cover 1-5 on the court is a major bonus to a team looking to optimize their optionality, and effectively matchup against various different styles of play.
And at the tender age of 24, Grant still has room to get even better in his new role.
This upside, when coupled with the impending release of Anthony made Grant a prime candidate for a contract extension, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a brand new, three-year $27 million deal to remain in OKC through 2020-2021 NBA season, presumably as a full-time member of the team’s starting five,
Well only time will tell just how good Grant can become as a small ball power forward for the speed-obsessed Thunder, it’s worth wondering if former Philadelphia 76ers GM Bryan Colangelo made the right move on shipping Jerami Grant to the Oklahoma City for Ilyasova and a pair of future second-round picks in 2022 and 2023.