This is the 17th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Jerami Grant of Syracuse.
JERAMI GRANT, Syrcause
6-foot-8, 210 pounds
HIS STORY: One thing Jerami Grant has is athletic pedigree. His father, Harvey Grant, was the 12th overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft and his uncle, Horace Grant, is a fout-time NBA champion. While his elders were more strong and skilled, Jerami is a big-time athlete. He’s 6-foot-8 but has a terrific 7-foot-2 wingspan. Last year at Syracuse, he was part of the Orange's historical 25-0 start. But he was also part of their dismal collapse, as they went 3-6 down the stretch and ended their season with a round-of-32 loss to Dayton. Grant was tied for third on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game and led the squad with 6.8 rebounds per game.
HIS STRENGTHS: Already touched on it, but Grant is just a tremendous athlete. He’s terrific in transition, an explosive leaper, and can finish with some highlight-reel dunks. Grant has a high motor on both ends and attacks the glass to rebound but also to score. Last year, he got to the free-throw line 7.7 times per 40 minutes, which is one of the top marks of any player entering the draft. Defensively, he has all the tools to be great -- he has lateral quickness, length, and quick hands -- but Syracuse plays a 2-3 zone. While he was effective in it, it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to lock down small forwards at the NBA level.
HIS WEAKNESSES: He’s just not that skilled. As you’ve read in many of these evaluations, at the highest level this is a game of skill and not just athleticism. He lacks a consistent jumper inside the arc, and beyond the arc he was 0-for-5 this year. Additionally, he cannot yet put the ball on the deck and create for himself. He’s explosive with a quick first step, so he can go by you off the catch, but soon as he puts it on the deck to attempt to get to the rim, the defender has the advantage. He’s got a great, long frame but is still not that strong. He will add more muscle to his frame without losing the athleticism; until he does that, however, he could struggle to hang physically on the interior.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? Reports from Grant’s workouts are confirming what we already knew: great athlete but not quite ready. He’s only 20 years old and has many physical gifts, so the potential is there. But for him to come into the league and consistently impact a team is a stretch. He’ll start his career as a rotation guy who will defend and rebound, but he'll struggle to give you more than that. He could develop those offensive skills and become a complete player, so a team will take him in the 20-30 range. The Celtics, though, need players that can step in next year and move this team forward. For that reason, I think they’ll pass on Grant with their 17th pick.
COMING ON FRIDAY: James Young of Kentucky