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Bright Side Draft Profile: Jerian Grant is the right fit for Suns

Under head coach Jeff Hornacek and GM Ryan McDonough, the Suns have demonstrated a penchant for loading up on combo guards with broad skill sets. In Jerian Grant, the Suns would land a player with true point guard skills who also possesses the size and off-ball ability to play both guard positions.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The folly of the 2014-15 Suns was rooted in poor chemistry, lack of shooters, roster turmoil and post-trade deadline injuries. It's easy to place the blame on too many point guards, but the Suns were a much more effective team with the three-headed monster of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas than they were when forced to resort to the likes of Archie Goodwin and Jerel McNeal at point late in the season.

With the PG deck cleared of Dragic, IT and Tyler Ennis at the trade deadline, the "help wanted" sign is again posted for the Suns. Bledsoe is the only player certain to return, with Brandon Knight a restricted free agent. It's difficult to imagine the Suns letting Knight go after giving so much for him in trade, but this still leaves only the raw Goodwin and towel-waving Reggie Bullock as backcourt depth (projecting Gerald Green's exit as a free agent).

Even if Hornacek didn't appear to have a PG fetish, the Suns would need one. The only question is whether to find one via free agency or the draft. Jerian Grant is the perfect fit should the Suns choose to fill this hole through the draft.

Measurables (all courtesy Draft Express)

  • Height (with shoes): 6'5"
  • Weight: 198 lbs
  • Wingspan: 6'7"
  • Age: 22, played four years college basketball
  • Last season's basic stats: 16.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, 3.0 RPG on 48% overall shooting and 32% from 3
  • Consensus First Team All-American as senior
  • Led Notre Dame to NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, losing in that round to Kentucky.
After redshirting his freshman year and working through academic problems later in his Notre Dame tenure, Grant was an extremely productive college player. He accomplished this against high level competition in the Big East and then the ACC after ND changed conferences. This past season, Grant was the best player on an elite, title-contending squad, posting sterling advanced stats such as 25.5 PER, 7.7 win shares, 51.1 free throw rate, 59.2 true shooting % and 33.6 assist %.

Evident from his physical profile is that he's a tall, lanky PG, which allows him to see the floor well to assist teammates. His 3-point shooting was sub-par at 31.6% as a senior, and 34.5% for his college career. Spot up shooting remains an area of concern, though he's shown promise there. Grant himself cited this as a point of focus for improvement.

At age 22, and five years out of high school, it's fair to question how much upside there is for Grant when compared to younger, rawer, less accomplished players. The flip side is that the team drafting him will get a more fully realized player who will be closer to "plug and play." This is a benefit when compared to players who had yet to consistently demonstrate the skills a team's looking for when drafted, projects such as Suns youngsters Goodwin and Alex Len. Grant's athleticism isn't off the charts, but also isn't problematic; it won't limit further growth.

Grant's strengths and weaknesses videos from DX:

He possesses better pure PG skills than either Bledsoe or Knight, which would make him a nice fit next to either of them when the other is resting. Additionally, it's easy to envision his strong pick and roll game, post passing and ability to find cutters creating easy shots for the likes of Len, Markieff Morris and T.J. Warren.

The Suns' offense was a train wreck down the stretch, with iso ball and lots of poor, contested shots the main culprits. Grant can help alleviate those problems by creating easier shots and getting to the FT line.

Also making him a strong fit in Phoenix are that he shared playmaking duties with Demetrius Jackson at ND, so is used to the arrangement, and is strong in transition offense. Include that he's the brother of current NBA player Jerami Grant, son of former player Harvey Grant and nephew of former player Horace Grant, and Jerian checks nearly every box of a Suns player profile. He seems to agree:

Draft Express has Grant at #19 in their mock draft, so it might be a bit of a reach for the Suns to take him at #13. However, there's always the option of trading down and acquiring another asset in the process, or scoring a second first round pick by trading a current player such as P.J. Tucker.

The prospect of drafting yet another PG after the debacle of Kendall Marshall and draft/flip of Ennis, while the team has other needs, is sure to give many Suns fans indigestion. But Jerian Grant is an excellent prospect who fits a current need: a smart, skilled, accomplished playmaker. He's also more athletically gifted than both Marshall and Ennis.

Will he be the best player available at #13? Maybe not. He will go on to be a successful pro player, though, and his fit on the Suns looks like a glove. One way or another, I'd like to see him in purple and orange next season.

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