When Jerami Grant slipped to the 2nd Round of the NBA Draft, many Syracuse Orange fans criticized his decision to leave school early. There were some very vocal opponents even leading up to the draft, and when Grant was finally taken by Philadelphia 76ers with the 39th Pick, it seemed that they were proven right. Of course not everyone felt that Grant had made the wrong choice to leave early.
Grant was injured in the fall and found it hard to earn early minutes, even with the Sixers preparing for the future. When Syracuse struggled in the early going, it seemed to make those voices even louder as fans wondered how much of a difference Grant (and Tyler Ennis) would have made for the Orange (news of Syracuse's post-season ban certainly should end that discussion).
While Grant was waiting for his chance in Philly, he wasn't sitting around. He's been spending long hours in the weight room and gym improving his body and his game. Despite what some tend to think about the NBA, they are interested in the development of their young players. They have the facilities and staff to work with those who are serious about improvement and it sure looks like Grant is one of those guys.
These are the numbers Grant put up in January while averaging 21.9 minutes per game: 7.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, .457 fg %, .487 3pt fg%. The last is probably what jumps out to Syracuse fans. During his two years at SU, Grant shot 6-20 from 3, but he's already made 24 out of 59 in Philly this year. It's a testament to Grant's work ethic that he's made strides in an are that many said was his weakest.
Grant's progress in his rookie season has the Philadelphia fans excited about the 2nd-Round pick. Sixers head coach Brent Brown has likened Grant's physical attributes to a player he worked with in San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard, and Sixers blog Liberty Ballers is wondering if Jerami can become the next Shawn Marion.
Check out these highlights of his game in Cleveland earlier in the week. Watch as Grant doesn't rush his open looks from 3, and as teams start to close out harder on him, he'll have more open lanes to drive as he does on Shawn Marion in these highlights.
And of course, no story about Jerami Grant would be complete without some nasty dunks.