Hard Work Paying Off For Jerami Grant

by Andy Jasner

The transition wasn’t going to be easy.

Jerami Grant understood that fact.

What made it more difficult was the simple idea of not being 100 percent.

Grant sat out the preseason and the first month of the regular season with a sprained right ankle. The rookie forward for the 76ers, selected with the No. 39 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, just couldn’t progress the way he wanted.

So he had the toughest task of all – staying patient.

“It wasn’t the easiest way to come into the league because I’ve always been the type of competitor who works as hard, if not harder, than anyone,” Grant said. “I’d come early and stay late. I’d do whatever I had to do in order to improve. With my ankle, I couldn’t get on the court and work out the way that I needed. When you’re a rookie, you want to prove yourself. I had to wait. It was really tough.”

Little by little, Grant’s ankle improved and he was able to maneuver his way into the rotation.

Then Grant began to show why he was taken in the draft.

“Things have been going well for me and I’m thankful, but at the same time, I worked so hard to get back,” Grant said. “Adjusting to the NBA from college is a major hurdle. When you’re injured and can’t be out there with your new teammates, it’s really tough, man. You want to suit up and play because that’s what you’ve done all your life. I knew that I needed to be healthy because I didn’t want to have a setback.”

The son of former NBA player Harvey Grant and the nephew of Horace Grant, Jerami just kept putting in the work. All the countless hours of rehab are paying huge dividends now.

“We saw it in the summertime,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Grant. “Then he got hurt and I was nervous because it was kind of like, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ I didn’t think he’d be able to jump back in it and force my hand like he has. He has this fantastic personal side where he loves the game, has been well-raised, he’s smart, his family tree – and it adds up into an interesting person. Then you look at his body and his work ethic. He’s probably one of our best workers, and it all adds into an interesting prospect.”

Thanks to his work ethic, Grant has morphed into one of the most improved players on the Sixers and quite possibly, the entire league.

Grant didn’t knock down one 3-pointer his last season at Syracuse

Thus far with the Sixers, he’s 26-for-67 from beyond the arc.

Now that’s progress.

“I try to get to the gym as much as possible and shoot as much as I can and sometimes it may be late at night,” Grant said. “It’s about working hard and continuing to improve. I knew my jumper needed work and I’m listening to the coaches and putting in the time to make it better. I’ve seen progress in games and that’s very exciting to me. It shows that the work is coming through and showing when it counts in the games.

“I felt like early in the season, I was missing shots. I needed to get in the best shape possible and keep working. There were times that I would get up shots after a game at night. When I was a high school player and a college player at Syracuse, there were times I’d stay late and keep shooting. As I’ve gotten healthy and stronger, my confidence has improved. The results are what I’ve been looking for. My plan is to keep improving every single day.”

Grant’s improvement has been steady on defense as well. He has a strong penchant for blocking shots as evidenced by his eight blocks against the New York Knicks earlier this season. That performance came in just 25 minutes putting Grant in some elite company.

Grant became one of only eight players in the last 20 years to block at least eight shots in less than 25 minutes.

“The coaches preach about giving it everything on both ends, and if you miss a shot, get back and make up on defense,” Grant said. “Your defense should always be a priority. I’ve always been a good defender and able to block some shots. I’m just out there reacting and trying to play solid defense on every possession.”

Wins have been scarce for the Sixers, who fell to 12-44 following a 119-108 loss at Miami Mondaynight.

But Grant refuses to get down. He’s come too far in such a short span.

“We’re such a young team and we’re going to have ups and downs,” Grant said. “It’s about staying together and keeping our goals in mind. We need to keep putting in good days. The results will keep coming. I know it.”

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