Film Room: Jerian Grant's Defensive Abilities

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - It’s critical for teams to have tough-minded guards who fight over screens, contest perimeter shots and stay between their opponent and the basket.

Grant, a 6-foot-4, 198-pound combo guard, consistently does all those things. The former Notre Dame standout who played with the Bulls the last two seasons and was acquired by the Magic in a recent three-team trade is one of the league’s best young on-the-ball defenders.

Opponents have a hard time beating Grant off the dribble because of the versatile guard’s terrific lateral speed, good length and excellent anticipation. In fact, of the 388 times an opponent attempted to drive on Grant in 2017-18, only 53 times (13.6 percent) did that player blow by the former first round draft pick.

Guarding the pick-and-roll is another one of Grant’s strengths. The 25-year-old traps ball handlers with ease, powers through picks and excels making ball handlers dribble toward the sideline or away from the incoming screen (icing the ball screen).

Although strategy usually determines whether the defender guarding the ball will go over or under a screen, Grant typically makes the right decisions in these cases. He also infrequently relies on a switch to bail him out.

The nephew of Magic legend Horace Grant is a fearless defender, too – his father Harvey also played in the NBA and his younger brother Jerami currently plays for the Thunder. Even though he’s mostly responsible for guarding ones and twos, the Silver Spring, Md. native is capable of switching onto threes because of his strong body, good instincts and length (6-foot-7 ½ wingspan).

Those same attributes also help the former ACC star patrol the lane when necessary. He was one of Chicago's only players last season who periodically took a charge, and he showed good resistance when opponents tried backing him down in the post.

Contesting shots when coming over screens is another one of Grant’s defensive fortes. In fact, opponents shot just 22.7 percent from the field (44 attempts) with Grant as the closest defender in these situations – that ranked No. 1 in the entire league (at least 40 shot attempts).

Here’s a look at a few defensive plays from the three-year, going on four-year, NBA veteran:


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