Profiling Potential Pacers Picks: Jerian Grant

Mar 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Jerian Grant (22) reacts during the second half against the Wichita State Shockers in the semifinals of the midwest regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Jerian Grant (22) reacts during the second half against the Wichita State Shockers in the semifinals of the midwest regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
Jerian Grant
Mar 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Jerian Grant (22) reacts during the second half against the Wichita State Shockers in the semifinals of the midwest regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers and their fans will talk themselves into and out of many different draft possibilities over the next 56 days. Many will bemoan the fact that Indiana should have “tanked” to get a better pick.

But like it or not, the Pacers eschew tanking more than any other team in the league. Remarkably, Indiana hasn’t lost more than 50 games in 26 years, a mark that’s a full eight years better than the closest competition: the San Antonio Spurs.

Barring some ping-pong-ball luck, the Pacers are likely headed back to the ho-hum late lottery, just a year removed from being a genuine NBA Finals contender. The good news for Indiana is that they really don’t need to be picky in the draft, as they could honestly use help all over the roster. Of course, this is actually just an optimistic way of looking at a much larger problem: The 2015 Pacers looked to be a long way from contender status.

What the Pacers Need

Even if Paul George returns to his previous level of play, legitimate questions surround every other wing on the roster. Can C.J. Miles learn to play defense? Did Rodney Stuckey really figure out his jump shot? Is Solomon Hill a real NBA basketball player? Will Damo Rudez ever find minutes on the wing, or is he just a stretch four?

The back court is even more fluid. While George Hill played at an All-Star level in 2015 when healthy, many still wonder whether he would be better slotted at the shooting guard position on a regular basis. C.J. Watson is most likely on his way out of Indiana, and even the lovable-but-limited Donald Sloan is a free agent this summer.

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Then, of course, there’s the front court, which appears to be in shambles.

Roy Hibbert may or may not be on his way out of town, but regardless, it appears that his future role with the team will change dramatically. David West figured out how to remain a productive player through guile and intelligence in 2015, but he’s nowhere close to the guy that almost singlehandedly won playoff series in previous postseasons.

Luis Scola actually had a tremendous year in 2015, but at age 35 (happy birthday, Luis), he’s not a player that the Pacers, or anyone for that matter, would consider building around. Ian Mahinmi and Lavoy Allen both bring specific skills to the roster, but are just as limited in other ways and seem to be lifelong NBA backups.

The 11th Pick

Of course the Pacers would love to get their hands on Karl Anthony-Towns, Jahlil Okafor, or De’Angelo Russell, but those names will be long gone by the time the Pacers are on the clock. Therefore, for the next few weeks, we will be focusing on some realistic names that might be available when Indiana is ready to draft.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, many great players have been taken with the eleventh overall pick in NBA Draft history.

Just two years ago, Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams was picked in that slot by the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2011, a guy named Klay Thompson was taken right after Paul George. And JJ Redick, Alan Houston, and Robert Horry all turned themselves into nice NBA starters as well.

But Pacers fans might fondly remember the greatest 11th pick of all time: Reggie Miller.

There will obviously be plenty of options for the team, and unless they mess up badly, they should be able to find a rotation-quality player — and hopefully much more. We will break down many of the possibilities over the days and weeks to come, but today we start with someone who has a bit of a NBA pedigree already.

Jerian Grant

Jerian Grant, the nephew of  ’90s workhorse Horace Grant and son of Horace’s twin brother Harvey, grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and played college ball just a few hours north of Indianapolis for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

After a few years of hot and cold play, Grant trampolined onto the national stage in 2014 with one of the more ridiculous dunks you will ever see.

No, that’s not hyperbole.

Grant averaged 17 points and 7 assists as a senior for the Irish, and led his team to the Elite Eight where they nearly took out the (to that point) undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. Impressively, he played in all 165 minutes of tournament action for Notre Dame, and was a running fadeaway jumper over one of the longest dudes in all of America from a Final Four.


Grant is a true point guard in almost every sense of the word. While you could debate whether a true point guard is even necessary in the NBA anymore, Grant has real skills that will always translate onto every basketball court. Grant averaged 7.3 assists per-40 minutes as a senior, a mark which was better than all but three other players in the draft. His DraftExpress pure point guard ratio of 6.22 was good for second best in the entire country.

Standing 6’5″ and weighing in around 210 pounds, Grant has real NBA size and length, something that Frank Vogel and the Pacers really covet. The point guard often best utilizes his size as a passer, finding easier angles on entry passes and pick and rolls. He was also a fantastic passer out of the post in 2015 as he finished with one of the best assist rates in the entire country from that position. Most importantly, Grant isn’t afraid to use his size, and he often utilizes it in big moments.

Leading by one against the eventual National Champion Duke Blue Devils, Grant isolates his defender and posts him up at the top of the key. Grant creates enough space to get a decent look, but reads the floor beautifully and finds an open teammate in the corner for the dagger three.

This play demonstrated another key strength, namely that Grant is a legitimate creator and closer down the stretch of games. While his jump shot needs work off of the catch and shoot, Grant really lit it up at times for the Irish off the bounce, and was proficient at creating good looks for himself both at the rim and in the midrange area.

Defensively, Grant’s length and athleticism should enable him to guard both guard positions at the NBA level, and his off-ball instincts are already fantastic. He’s got strong hands and seems to know when and where to leave his man in order to dig down for steals. But again, his biggest strength defensively is using his length to his advantage. Vogel’s Pacers are always encouraged to “challenge from behind” even when they are beaten initially. Watch here as Quinn Cook gets a full head of steam, but Grant stays with him the whole way, challenges the shot without fouling, and even blocks it at the rim.


Grant’s biggest weakness may just be his age. At 22, he’s already two and three years older than most of the other guys in the draft, and his upside is seen to be more limited. If Grant “is what he is” at this point, other names might simply be sexier options.

Fundamentally, Grant needs to work on his jump shot and shot selection. After shooting 41% from deep as a junior, Grant struggled to break 30% as a senior while facing the other team’s best defensive option on a nightly basis. Much of this can be traced directly back to his catch and shoot struggles, a real concern for NBA teams which so value spacing.

DraftExpress had him in the 60th percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers, a serviceable rank, but not a strength by any means. His accuracy also took a hit because of the many erratic jumpers off the bounce which he took early in the shot clock. Many of these jumpers were from the dreaded midrange area, and one has to wonder if Grant’s game is more geared toward a different era. In some ways, Grant’s game screams “Gerald Henderson!”

Some have noted that Grant has struggled at times defensively, but I think those are non-issues. Grant played almost 38 minutes a game for an offensive juggernaut that played faster than almost every other team in the country. Grant has the build and defensive instincts to be an above average to good NBA defensive player, and I think he will easily get there within the proper system.

Fit in Indiana

Interesting, to say the least. With C.J. Watson’s eminent departure, and Rodney Stuckey’s future up in the air, the Pacers have some real holes to fill in the back court. Grant should be able to step in from day one as a capable backup point guard, and would probably even add some unique skills that Watson could never emulate.

Further, the combination of Grant with George Hill would make for an intriguing backcourt duo. Hill is just fine spotting up and spacing the floor as a shooting guard, and Grant’s passing would be a welcome addition to a roster that has lacked playmaking in that capacity for years (minus the one random Lance Stephenson blip).

Defensively, both players would be mostly interchangeable, though Grant would need to put on a few more pounds to guard NBA shooting guards.

Some people have wondered if Jerian Grant would be a “reach” at the 11th pick in the draft as well. While most of the draft experts have projected him to be a possible late lottery pick, most seem to think that the 15-18 range is better suited for him. Generally though, this is mostly due to his age and perceived lack of upside. Very few scouts would argue against Grant being one of the five or ten best rookies next season.

Fortunately for Grant, Larry Bird has never been all that worried with “reaching” in drafts. Many people thought that Paul George was a reach because of his raw skill set, and he turned out pretty well for the Pacers. If Bird likes Jerian Grant more than anyone else available, he won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on the Fighting Irish combo guard.

Why Larry Bird/Pacers fans will talk themselves into Jerian Grant

Grant is a team-first warrior with an NBA pedigree that would be able to step in from day one and contribute.

Why Larry Bird/Pacers fans will talk themselves out of Jerian Grant

Kelly Oubre is longer, more athletic, younger, and more Paul George-y.

What are your thoughts? Would you be happy with a Jerian Grant selection? Who would you rather have instead? Feel free to join the discussion in the comment section with your thoughts.

Next: The 5 Best Pacers Games of the Year

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