Jerian Grant Needs to Start for the Knicks
Knicks’ rookie shows plenty of potential, but a bench role would diminish his contribution to the team this season
#NoDisrespectToJoseCalderon, but Jerian Grant needs to start.
Grant enters games, changes the pace, and bends defenses around him. We haven’t seen seen a Knicks point guard with this ability since probably Stephon Marbury.
Unfortunately, that’s not a compliment.
While the other Knicks draft pick, Kristaps Porzingis, battles non-contact injuries, Coach Fish has not been afraid to start the rookie from Latvia.
Why is he so tentative to start the son and nephew of former NBA players?
Grant is a 6'5" (in sneakers) athletic guard that draws defenders on him. Thus, he frees up his teammates. ‘Melo would significantly benefit from Grant’s penetrating ability.
Another guard that manipulated defenses and benefited ‘Melo? Allen Iverson.
Again, I don’t write this to disparage Jose Calderon or his game. Obviously, he’s a well liked professional and quite a good player. I’m writing this to persuade Knicks fans to invest in the future, and in this case, the future starts with Jerian Grant.
Calderon is an excellent outside shooter. In fact, his career eFG% and TS% are .544 and .575, respectively (per BBall_Ref). Grant’s numbers at Notre Dame were .506 and .563.
However, Grant will push the pace and facilitate the offense better than Calderon could.
Posting & Toasting Blog published a piece about Grant helping to push the pace for the Knicks. They mention how Grant ability to control the tempo of a game is essential to create fast breaks and score easy points.
The current roster has guards who can grab offensive rebounds and initiate the fast break. Langston Galloway showed he could grab boards, and averaged 0.8 offensive rebounds in his rookie campaign. The champions Golden State Warriors led the league with 20.9 fastbreak points per game. While the Knicks and Phil Jackson preach the Triangle, easy points are still invaluable.
Also, it’s important that Grant can adapt the Triangle offense in times of breakdown and operate the pick-and-roll. Grant seems to possess a nice I.Q. in the offensive setting. He makes smart passes and frees up teammates to make easy shots.
At Notre Dame, he averaged 2.2 turnovers per game, including the same number in his senior season where he played 37.1 minutes per game. Grant actually led college hoops in total minutes played with 1408 and was 18th in minutes per game (side note: I was very surprised he led in total minutes).
Obviously, Jerian Grant won’t lead the Knicks this season in minutes played, and, regardless whether he starts or not, he won’t played more than maybe 30 minutes each game.
But, these numbers are promising because although the competition is better in the NBA than the NCAA, players with Grant’s talent have time to develop.
So, Grant will only enhance his potential and continue to make dazzling passes and ferocious dunks. His assist number can increase, too, as NBA players are better shooters and finishers than their NCAA counterparts.
Grant cannot be any worse on the defensive end than Calderon. Jose is notably poor defensively and would be dauntingly difficult to hide on a team that ranked 28th in the league in defensive efficiency.
Recently, ‘Melo himself spoke about the Knicks coaching staff “challenging” him to call out if he’s not playing good defense so his teammates can see his commitment to that side (via slamonline.com):
Call it out in the film session so everybody can see that and hear that. By them doing that, it kind of forces me to be at the top level of my game on both ends of the court
The objectives of this rebuilding season should be to invest in young talent, build a well-rounded roster with great chemistry, and improve on defense. Jerian Grant can better fulfill these goals by starting games, not coming off the bench.
Calderon could fit well on the bench–limited minutes that would help him recover from previous injuries as well as facilitate the second unit and provide great shooting. I think most Knicks fans would like to see the future of the franchise unfold in front of us.