The Hawks don't have a recent track record of drafting "one-and-dones" in the NBA draft, i.e., the players who only competed at the NCAA level for one season. Most of the players the Hawks have picked were either overseas talents or NCAA upperclassmen. John Jenkins played three seasons at Vanderbilt, while Mike Muscala played four seasons at Bucknell. Mike Scott received a medical redshirt and played five at the University of Virginia.
Among the players projected to be picked near the Hawks' 15th pick Thursday, Jerian Grant of the University of Notre Dame has the most experience. In his senior season, Grant helped lead the Fighting Irish to a 32-6 record, an ACC Tournament Championship, and a spot in the Elite Eight.
Jerian wouldn't be the first member of his family to make it to the NBA or even the second or third. He is the older brother of current Philadelphia 76er, Jerami Grant. In addition, his father, Harvey, and uncle, Horace, who are twins, played a combined 28 seasons in the NBA after teaming up at Clemson and Hancock Central H.S. (Sparta, GA)
To find out more about the 22-year-old, Hawks.com reached out to Simon Chun. Chun is a 2010 ND grad and a basketball blogger who writes for the Notre Dame site One Foot Down under the name "4pointshooter".
Q: What does Jerian do well?
Chun: 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.
Q: How does his game translate to the NBA?
Chun: 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.
Q: What can he do to improve?
Chun: Strength and consistency. Jerian could use a few more pounds of muscle to 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 he often made pullup 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.
Q: What style of play suits his game best?
Chun: Considering his skill set he should be able to play in any system; a slower paced isolation offense (like the one we saw the Cavs employ in the finals) or a medium tempo pick and roll offense (like the one the Clippers use for long stretches). But as mentioned earlier, he excelled in ND's pace-and-space motion offense, and obviously we all saw Atlanta take the modern NBA pace and space offense to the next level. I believe that Jerian would fit right in Coach Bud's system. Should Atlanta use their #15 pick on Jerian, he should compete for minutes to play behind and alongside both Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver from day one.
Q. To which current or past NBA player would you compare him?
Chun: 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 at OFD (particularly fellow blogger JoeSchu) started calling him "Skinny Harden." Personally, I think that his most accurate comparison 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.