Grant, 23, averaged just 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game coming off the bench for the Thunder. But he shot a career-best 37.7 from beyond the arc and made a defensive impact after being traded early in the season from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and a protected first-round pick in 2020.
Grant’s athleticism and defensive versatility allowed the Thunder to experiment with him in different lineups, and he not only played his traditional position at small forward but also saw minutes at both center and the 4.
“At the power forward spot, he’s got some advantages because one of his greatest strengths that probably people don’t talk about is he’s a terrific rim protector and great shot-blocker,” head coach Billy Donovan told Fred Katz of CHNI Sports Oklahoma (via the Norman Transcript). “Sometimes in those situations he could be a little closer to the basket at that power forward spot to protect the rim than at the small forward spot.”
Given the trend toward small ball in the NBA, it wasn’t surprising that the Thunder experimented with Grant closer to the basket. And it’s also unsurprising that the team brought him back. His ability to impact the game defensively off the bench, combined with the growth of his perimeter shot and the potential for him to grow into a more consistent offensive player, made him a relative bargain.
Indeed, Grant is scheduled to make just $1.5 million next season. For a Thunder team that came into the summer without much help at small forward or a great supporting cast in general, keeping Grant in the fold was the logical move.
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