When sophomore Jerami Grant declared for the NBA Draft, he took a lot of fire from fans and reporters everywhere. There were plenty of reasons: his game was too unpolished, he had no jump shot, he wasn’t big enough, and most importantly, Orange fans were scared about the future and wanted the safety blanket of Grant for the upcoming season.
Despite all of this, the forward took advice from his family (who knows a little bit about the NBA) and coaches and decided to take the jump, joining fellow Syracuse players Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair. While he may have slid down the draft boards a little more than expected, to say that Grant did anything except make the right choice would be questionable.
Sure, he could have been taken a lot higher had he stayed in Orange another year. But, more players tend to fall down draft boards after choosing to stay in college for one more season. Just look at his teammate, Fair. C.J. came off of a Final Four run and had the nation’s attention after last season. While he wasn’t a projected lottery pick, his 14.5 points per game and nearly 50 percent shooting percentage looked great to NBA teams. Fair could have been taken at the back end of the first round in an unusually weak draft class. However, C.J. stayed. And without a strong team around him, Fair watched his draft stock vanish. He went undrafted and is now fighting for a spot on the Dallas Mavericks in the summer league.
Grant averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in his first year with significant playing time for the Orange. The draft scouts liked his size, athleticism, and energy. Despite not having a true NBA position yet, Grant did the right thing and entered the draft. It paid off, as he was selected 39th overall by the Sixers in one of the deepest draft classes of all time.
Grant will now join a team loaded with young players building for the future, alongside defending Rookie of the Year and former teammate Michael Carter-Williams. Sure, he is not guaranteed a spot on the roster, but the Sixers are in rebuilding mode. Grant should see ample playing time in the preseason and will have a legitimate chance to crack the roster and even the rotation to start the year.
Ultimately, Grant could have gone higher if he had a great season next year—but why take the risk? In a league so focused on potential, why jeopardize the opportunity to get drafted? Just ask Fair, who saw his draft dreams disappear in one season. Grant made the safe choice to enter the draft and will see a lot of playing time with the Sixers as he begins his uphill battle toward NBA stardom.
Posted by: Jason Weingold