Knicks: Jerian Grant Should Get Some Time With the Starting Unit


New York is trying to acquire another starting point guard, but maybe the Knicks should give rookie Jerian Grant an opportunity to do so.

The New York Knicks are going to make an attempt to acquire another guard. The Jeff Teague interest signifies that they want someone who can operate the offense and simplify the game on the offensive end for his teammates by creating shots for them while also making space for them with his ability to get into the lane and force opponents off-balance by accounting for him. At this juncture, Teague fits that description.

However, before the Knicks give up any assets in a point guard upgrade, the Knicks need to at least consider the one man on their roster. The Knicks have decent wings, a star at the small forward position and a basketball unicorn in the frontcourt. The argument could be made that all they need is a point guard who can create and get to the lane for them.

Of course, I’m talking about rookie Jerian Grant.

Before I make my argument, I think it’s fair for anyone to be a skeptic on Grant’s ability to help the Knicks this season. Right now, Grant is shooting just 35.3% from the field and an unbelievable 15.7% from beyond the arc. It’s gotten to the point where he’s missing simple open layups and clanking some of the threes with no chance of them going in. His 9.2 PER over 773 minutes doesn’t give anyone optimism.

But to truly understand Grant is by watching him in the small sample sizes Derek Fisher offers us. Offensively, you can see Grant properly operate on offense. He’s quick, but he never hurries on the offensive end. He doesn’t drive for the sake of drive, but for the sake of completing the play. In his 107 possessions as a pick and roll ball handler, the Knicks have gotten free throws out of it on 14% of the plays.

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That’s first among players on the Knicks and 14th in the league with players with at least 100 possessions as a pick and roll ball handler. Better than guys like Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, and Kyle Lowry. The ability to create fouls on drives would be great if the Knicks had an additional slasher, something they can address in the offseason, but for now, it’s great that he can do that as a lone slasher.  There’s a part of his game where he can create off the pick and roll, an area where the Knicks rank 29th in the league.

Also, here’s a shot chart – via NBA Savant – on his drives. Took some of his specific drive attempts and checked them out. He’s actually not that bad.

Jerian Grant (1)
Jerian Grant (1) /
New York Knicks
New York Knicks /

New York Knicks

While Grant could manufacture fouls, it’s going to take a bit for him to learn how to become an actual scorer in that role. Grant has a score percentage of 34.9%, one of the lower rate among all players with 110 possessions as the pick and roll ball handlers. He can’t shoot and is still figuring out how to adjust at finishing in the lane. Once he becomes a better finisher, he’ll at least be able to continue to draw fouls.

Second, he needs to play because, well, why is someone who can attempt to generate assists on the bench, while your other two playmakers play in the same lineup. The combination of Carmelo Anthony and Jose Calderon starts, but after that, the Knicks tend to play a lineup that didn’t include a natural playmaker. No offense to Langston Galloway, but he’s more of a combo guard and a secondary ball handler, rather than an initiator like a Calderon or Grant could be.

Jerian Grant
Jerian Grant /

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Grant is third among Knicks players with 2.4 assists per game, but that’s not telling. Grant is also ranked third among Knicks players in potential assists. Meaning, he’s creating good shots, but his teammates aren’t knocking them down just yet. He’s third in points created per assists and second in assists to pass ratio – trailing Carmelo Anthony. Nothing remarkable, but worth exploring in larger samples.

The Knicks will consider trading options at the point guard position because they think they can make the playoffs and outside of the Mike Conley, there are no real free agents that should capture New York’s eye. However, before the Knicks make any moves before they give up any assets, the Knicks should, at least, try Jerian Grant for 20-25 minutes, for starters and see how it goes.

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If anything, he’s a 2015 first round pick and while Tim Hardaway Jr. is struggling, you would like some return on your recent draft pick.