Did Philadelphia 76ers Give Up On Jerami Grant Too Quickly?
The Philadelphia 76ers exchanged small forward Jerami Grant for power forward Ersan Ilyasova and a 2020 first round top-20 protected pick.
Not so long ago, small forward Jerami Grant was one of the faces of the Philadelphia 76ers future. In fact, he was one of the players who benefited mightily from the madcap antics of former president and general manager Sam Hinkie.
And so, as the story goes, Jerami Grant was selected in the 2014 NBA Draft at 39. On top of that, he is the nephew of four time NBA Champion Horace Grant. While he was never the star leader of the team, Jerami Grant was nevertheless a pivotal role player for the team. Jerami Grant shouldered the play which proved to the Philadelphia 76ers and to the NBA that second round players could crack the lineup in the NBA.
The Best Is Yet To Come
On one hand, 2016-2017 is his third NBA season. And this year was lining up to become the season where he emphasized his production to ensure he played quality minutes for the team. On the other hand, this was the season after Jerami Grant and Jahlil Okafor shared an incredible summer experience as invited participants in 2016 USA Men’s Select Team. This was the second season of the ever hoped for Jerami Grant’s breakout year.
In conclusion. this was his bus stop, and the time came for him to change buses. Now, he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, alongside Russell Westbrook and is playing for a first place team in the NBA Northwest Division. Ultimately, Jerami Grant landed on a very competitive team.
Dec 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Ersan Evened Everything
In return, the Philadelphia 76ers took on Ersan Ilyasova. And so far, he has delivered just about anything and everything the Philadelphia 76ers might have hoped for. His 14.4 points per game average is a career best, as is his 1.7 assists per game average. He is accurate from the floor (46.6 percent) and from three-point range (38 percent). In fact, the Philadelphia 76ers are working him as hard this season as any point in his career. Not surprisingly, he is responding with his best play.
More from The Sixer Sense
Prior to the arrival of Ilyasova,the “logjamed” front court of the Philadelphia 76ers was anything but. The absence of Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons, and Jerryd Bayless forced the team to make full use of the roster’s versatility.
Another Season Of The Sixer Shuffle
While Dario Saric could play the five, four, and three roles, he was directed to start at the four. Richaun Holmes, capable of play at the four or five, was sent in to absorb excess minutes at the five. The absence of Ben Simmons, likely the small forward for the team at the beginning of the season, forced the quite versatile Robert Covington to ignore his play at the four or two roles, and start at the three. With Noel on the sidelines, Okafor and Embiid’s limited minutes were concentrated at the five.
In conclusion, a team with as many as seven players capable of manning up at the power forward position, now only had the services of an international rookie to start and play the lion’s share of minutes at the four. Saric needed help, someone who could carry starts and contribute quality minutes off the bench. But at what cost?
Dec 7, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie (L) listens as owner. Joshua Harris (M) introduces Jerry Colangelo (R) as special advisor. Before a game. against the San Antonio Spurs. at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
No Longer the Longest View In The NBA
There was a need for the Philadelphia 76ers to siphon some of the priority of the distant future to bolster the present. Entering the 2015-2016 season with no clear starter at point guard was likely the move that began the NBA movement to remove Hinkie from the helm of the Philadelphia 76ers.
There are few who would argue otherwise.
But many learned to take the bad with the good. And the good was a team with a decision making executive who understood the strategy of the longest view in the NBA. It was almost a game of “matching wits” with Hinkie, trying to guess his next move, trying to understand the end game two-steps-forward that lie behind the confusion of a step backwards.
So many cite the strategy of Hinkie as “tanking” to get the top draft pick of the next NBA Draft. I don’t think his strategy was ever that two-dimensional. You can find evidence in his draft strategy, particularly in the second round, a cascading web of transactions, each one built upon the previous move.. Ah, those were the days.
Now, the team is about the here and now. The potential for Jerami Grant was a significant upside, but in the future. Grant is contracted through the end of 2018, and he is working off a rookie’s second round salary. It’s easy to join the rest of the NBA, pat ourselves on the back for outsmarting the Thunder, take the performance of Ilyasova this season, and look to that draft pick.
But come to think about it, what is that draft pick worth?
Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a video board displaying all thirty draft picks in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The 2020…er…2021…er…2022 first round pick
The complexities of the NBA and the trading of draft picks can enmesh analysis so tightly in the trees, that the forest becomes lost.
And so, here is the bona fide, real life, honest to goodness breakdown.
Let’s begin with some background information. The Oklahoma City Thunder have committed their first round pick in 2018 to the Utah Jazz top-14 protected. But there is the stipulation that if the pick does not convey, the Jazz have the rights to the 2019 first round pick. And it’s still top-14 protected. If the pick does not convey, then the Jazz have the rights to the 2020 first round pick, still top-14 protected. If that pick is not converted after three years, then the Jazz get the Thunder’s 2020 and 2021 second round picks.
Complex Sentence, or NBA Draft Rules
And so, here is where the NBA complexity kicks in. In the NBA, no team can give away their first round pick on two consecutive seasons. And so, if the Jazz earn the Thunder’s 2018 first round pick, then the Philadelphia 76ers line up for the 2020 first round pick, top-20 protected. Unlike the Jazz pick, the Philadelphia 76ers only have a single season of potential first round pick from the Thunder.
Should the Thunder send the 2019 first round pick to the Jazz, then the Philadelphia 76ers’ rights encumber the Thunder’s 2021 first round pick, top-20-protected. Should the pick fall to the Jazz at the 2020 first round pick, the 76ers get the chance at the Thunder’s 2022 first round pick, top-20-protected.
If the Philadelphia 76ers one year chance at the Thunder’s first round pick fails, then the Philadelphia 76ers will get the Thunder’s second round picks in both the 2022 and 2023 NBA Drafts.
And so, the bottom line is: two years after the Jazz get the Thunder pick, the 76ers will get the Thunder’s first round pick if it falls between 21 and 30 on NBA Draft day. If not,the 76ers will get a 2022 and 2023 second round pick from the Thunder.
Dec 23, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) guards Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant (9) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Tomorrow Never Dies
Today, the move has benefited both teams. However, at the end of this season, Ersan Ilyasova moves on to free agency. Jerami Grant has another year with the Thunder, and will likely remain with that team for as long as they give him a contract at or nearly at fair market value.
A single season, for a future.
But there is more. The Philadelphia 76ers filled an immediate need at the power forward position, at the expense of the small forward role. In response, the team has been rotating Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson,and not even Dario Saric at the small forward role. Small forward was the role Jerami Grant played well.
On one hand, with Grant’s exodus, the Philadelphia 76ers will not have the chance to play the “snuff” lineup of Embiid, Noel, Grant, Covington, and Simmons. But even still, I would have liked to see that line-up, simply from the theoretical defense they could play.
Furthermore, Jerami Grant was a piece to the future of this franchise, and was still developing. As a result, Bryan Colangelo did not see the same future, and traded him for pieces to help the team today. In further analysis, Ilyasova is shooting a very respectable 46.6 percent from the floor and 38 percent from the perimeter. But Jerami Grant is shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 43.9 percent from the perimeter.
As a matter of fact, Sam Hinkie made a career of capitalizing on other NBA executives’ impatience. And so, here’s hoping other NBA executives do not make a career of capitalizing on ours.