Syracuse Basketball: Without Carmelo Anthony, Jerami Grant will thrive

With Carmelo Anthony officially out of Oklahoma City, the harder-working and younger Syracuse alum, Jerami Grant, will thrive.

Nearly three weeks ago, Sam Presti and Oklahoma City’s front office signed Syracuse alum Jerami Grant to a three-year, $27 Million deal to keep the versatile forward a member of the Thunder.

Grant exemplifies consistency and durability, playing in all but one game for the Thunder during the 2017-18 season.

The 24-year-old averaged more than eight points a game on a career-best 54% shooting, four rebounds, and a block in just over 20 minutes per game. He also threw down one of the more memorable dunks of the 2017-18 season.

Jerami Grant with the 50th best dunk in the NBA this past season:

Since entering the league ahead of the 2014-15 season, Grant has steadily improved his ability to score, rebound, and shoot at a high percentage. From cutting to the basket, to demoralizing a driving opponent with a monstrous block, Grant continued to make a name for himself last season and was paid accordingly this summer.

The 39th overall pick out of Syracuse in 2014 wasn’t expected to make a serious impact at the NBA level. Four years later, Grant has played in 303 out of a possible 328 games at the NBA level (92%) and has become one of the NBA’s best defenders at the power forward position. While Grant is more known for his ability to defend and spread the floor, he can also carry the load offensively when need be.

Over a year ago, I eluded to how Grant’s “statistics may not jump out at you, but his on-court presence tells a different tale.” Additionally, I stressed the fact that at that point in time, “offensive talents outweighed defensive talents.” However, in an era in which players like Grant are making nine million a year more for their exploits on defense rather than offense, the narrative is changing around the association, and for the better.

With a potential starting five of Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, and Steven Adams, a once unstable defensive lineup with Anthony will become one with no holes in it.

Defensively, Roberson (when healthy), George, Adams, and Westbrook all posed matchup nightmares for their opponents last season. Insert Grant into that lineup, and the Thunder will have one of the best defensive starting units in the association next season.

As long as Carmelo Anthony was a member of the OKC Thunder, his teammates and management tried to overcome the many hardships and failures he caused.

From the get-go, Anthony in OKC was not the right fit, and Grant, who made $24 Million less than Anthony last year, was more productive than the impending Hall-of-Famer when on the floor, simply because he was the right fit.