Just last week, the Thunder faithful were doubting everything about their favorite basketball organization and the new talent that came with it. But now, after two convincing wins, the narrative is starting to change.
Russell Westbrook is back to doing familiar things, mainly playing aggressively and Paul George is letting the game come to him. He’s been maximizing each opportunity over the Thunder’s last two games. However, a player that many don’t pay as much attention to is Jerami Grant.
Grant has been playing some of the best basketball of his professional career this season and really becoming one of OKC’s most reliable members of its supporting cast.
Scoring in double-figures in five of the team’s first 13 games, Grant is getting to the basket with ease and finishing with authority, while remaining under control. Which is an improvement from last year where it was evident that he had the athletic ability, but that didn’t translate to statistics. Now, it’s beginning to do so and he’s gaining more confidence game-after-game.
He’s averaging 8.6 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes per game, along with doing all the little things that often go unnoticed but still greatly benefit the team. Sunday, against the Mavericks, Grant scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting, including 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. His high-energy style of play benefits this team immensely and it’s starting to show. Grant’s plus/minus after Sunday’s 112-99 win over Dallas was a plus-13, the third highest, only behind George (plus-20) and Westbrook (plus-14).
In addition, his defense may be the strongest part of his game. His on-ball defense has improved from last season where it was already considered to be good. Grant’s shot-blocking ability is exceptional as well and only improving, averaging 1.2 per game thus far this season.
Jerami has the makings of one of the NBA’s most diverse two-way players and with more experience and confidence, expect him to develop into that guy for the Thunder. The season is young but after two straight wins, Grant playing at the level he’s playing at, and the big three showing signs of understanding their roles, there’s a legitimate reason to be increasingly optimistic about this season.