The NBA Draft is taking place tomorrow evening in Brooklyn's Barclays Center and we ND fans are likely to hear the names of our two most recent senior leaders called out as they embark on their NBA careers. To get OFD ready for the draft, I've come out of hiding to give a quick profile for Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. Also watch for CW's Draft Viewing Guide tomorrow!
The format for these two pieces will be simple - I've shamelessly adapted the Q&A I was asked to participate in on hawks.com (you can find that piece here). Let's get right to it.
What does Jerian do well?
Jerian does a lot of things well and thankfully they are mostly skills that you need out of a lead guard in today's NBA. He's a great creator and decision maker - particularly off pick and rolls - and knows when to pass the ball and when to get his own shot. He has great court vision which allows him to make the right pass and has the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor. He's also able to use his length to jump passing lanes and has a knack for doing so in the defensive backcourt.
How does his game translate to the NBA?
In terms of his style of play - he's a true combo guard; one with point guard skills and shooting guard size (he's 6'5" with shoes and has a legitimate 6'8" wingspan). It's also to his great benefit that Mike Brey runs a modern, motion heavy, pace-and-space system at Notre Dame where all five players on the court pass and move without the basketball. But at the end of the day, basketball often comes down to which guy can get a shot at the end of a shot clock and that guy was always Jerian Grant. Whether it be in isolation or pick and roll, Jerian should be able to play a lead guard role right away in the NBA.
What can he do to improve?
Strength and consistency. Jerian could use a few more pounds of muscle which should help him finish inside against bigger NBA bodies and he needs to improve the consistency of his jump shot. I mentioned earlier that he can shoot it from anywhere - and we saw that he often made pull up 3s from near half court, or the edge of the ND shamrock - but his stroke could use some improvement particularly for moments when he has to be more of a catch-and-shoot player than a ball handling creator.
What style of play suits his game best?
Considering his skill set he should be able to play in any system; a slower paced isolation offense (like the one the Cleveland Cavaliers employed through most of the playoffs) or a medium tempo pick and roll offense (like the one the L.A. Clippers use for long stretches). But as mentioned earlier, he excelled in ND's pace and space laden motion offense that the elite offenses in the NBA have employed for the past few years (Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs) and he would fit in well in those systems as well.
To which current or past NBA player would you compare him?
Jerian is an analytics friendly guard who can create for others, get to the rim, and hit outside jumpers and as such some of us here at OFD (particularly JoeSchu) started calling him "Skinny Harden." Personally, I think that his most accurate comparision is somewhere between Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili in both their strengths and weaknesses. He's already got some of their savvy 1 on 1 skills and if he can get his long range shooting back up to his junior year numbers when he shot 41% from beyond the arc (compared to 32% this year), it's very easy to imagine Jerian having a nice long career as an impact guard in the NBA.
Jerian had a private work out a few days before graduation on campus and he looked very strong. Check out the video below:
Jerian has accepted an invite to sit in the green room tomorrow evening and is expected to be joined by his family and Coach Mike Brey. What do you think fellow OFDers? Where do you think/want Jerian to end up? Let us know below!