Good Evening
Good Evening

Knicks rookie Jerian Grant showing positive signs in NBA Summer League

New York Knicks' Jerian Grant dribbles the ball

New York Knicks' Jerian Grant dribbles the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league game against the San Antonio Spurs Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. Credit: AP / Ronda Churchill

LAS VEGAS - Jerian Grant, the other player the Knicks picked up on draft night, isn't getting anywhere near the attention showered on Kristaps Porzingis. So it flew under the radar that Grant outplayed No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell Monday night.

Grant, the No. 19 pick out of Notre Dame, showed the ability to get in the paint with relative ease and run a team. He had eight assists to Russell's eight turnovers in the Knicks' summer league win over the Lakers.

There have been times when Grant has been sloppy with the ball or made poor decisions through his first three summer league games. But overall, the Knicks like what they've seen on both ends of the floor from the 6-5 Grant.

"We really enjoy having his playmaking ability out there, his vision and his comfort level handling the basketball," coach Derek Fisher said. "To play the guard in our system, both guards have to be able to make plays. Jerian gives us a little bit of versatility in that way."

That versatility has led to Fisher envisioning Grant playing in the backcourt alongside Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway or newly signed shooting guard Arron Afflalo. Fisher is not guaranteeing yet that Grant will get consistent minutes, though.

"We hope so," Fisher said. "There's still a lot for him to learn: taking care of the basketball, valuing possessions, defensively, understanding personnel and what guys' strengths are. You don't draft guys that high in the first round without thinking they probably can help you quickly. It's our job to develop them over the summer and the preseason to make sure that that happens."

The Knicks acquired the rights to Grant from the Atlanta Hawks for Tim Hardaway Jr.

Grant, 22, has impressive genes. He's the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant and Horace's nephew. Jerian's brother, Jerami, plays for the 76ers.

"I've gotten advice from all of them," Grant said. "My little brother was in the league last year, so go to him, go to my dad and uncle, just being able to talk to those type of people helps me and gives me an upper edge."

Grant has different skills than the Knicks' other two point guards. He's much quicker and better defensively than the veteran Calderon and still-developing Galloway.

Grant also looks more NBA-ready than Porzingis, despite the Latvian's impressive showing in the Las Vegas Summer League. Porzingis is only 19 and needs to get stronger. Grant was a four-year player at Notre Dame and finished with career averages of 14.6 points and 5.8 assists.

Thus far in summer league, Grant is averaging 11.3 points, 5.0 assists, 2.7 turnovers and 2.3 steals in 28 minutes.

"I think obviously I still have a long ways to go," Grant said. "But being 22 it helps out to be able to go out there and play right away with some of these older guys, mature guys.

"I'm just getting acclimated, kind of learning the offense. Guys are a lot quicker, a lot longer. Some of those passes you could make before are tougher to make so it's just adjusting."

The Knicks, 3-0 in summer league play, had Wednesday off and will return to action Thursday when Grant will get another chance to prove himself and stop doing some of the "rookie things" Fisher has seen from him.

"At times it really looks like he has the feel for the game that we were excited about when we had the chance to draft him. He can make shots but he's a good playmaker, has good hands on defense," Fisher said. "For him, and for most young players, it's always understanding that the motor always has to be revving. There's really not a casual or cool pace you can play at this level.

"I think as he learns that over time, I think he can be really good."

New York Sports