With the 18th pick, the Rockets go against what many predicted from them (Tyus Jones, still on the board) and select Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant.
From The Dream Shake: Grant was one of the best players in the country last year and provides ideal size (6-4) as a running mate for James Harden. Grant needs to work on his jumper, but his defensive ability and ballhandling will compensate as he improves from outside (which he will).
Jones is the analytical darling and had an outstanding freshman year at Duke. But he's 6-foot-nothing and runs and jumps worse than Jason Terry. He can shoot (37 percent from deep last year) but isn't exactly a deadly option. Grant is more physically ready to play high minutes in 2015-2016, when the Rockets will be all in for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Taylor: I like this pick. I think Jones gets the benefit of being on the NCAA Champions, and having a good Championship game at that, but Grant seems like the more NBA-ready prospect. He takes care of the ball, with only a 14% turnover rate, while still dishing out 6.6 assists per game. He’s not a great rebounder despite his size (3.0 per game) but his height helps him see over defenses and shoot over smaller guards. He’s not the strongest or most athletic player on the floor, and he sometimes struggles to finish at the rim against tougher competition. Still, he’s quick and smart and should fit with Houston’s scheme.
Kevin: I like this pick. The Rockets needed a competent point guard in the worst way and I think Grant is a heady, feisty player who can challenge Patrick Beverley for the starting position almost right away. I think Grant might be the most NBA ready point guard in the draft and this is an absolute steal this late.
Grant takes care of the ball and can setup his teammates well in the half court as well as on the break. This move will take a lot of pressure off of James Harden being the primary ball handler and playmaker in Houston. That right there in Harden’s mental and physical health come April, May and June is going to be pay huge dividends for the Rockets.
Dontae: I like Grant, more than most. I mentioned him as an option back when the Utah Jazz selected Devin Booker with the 12th pick. Grant has great size for the point guard position at 6'5" (in shoes), and will be able to take the pressure off of James Harden as a primary ball handler and playmaker.
He needs work on the defensive side of the ball, but he has the tenacity to be a contributor and not a liability. He'll fit right in with the analytics of the Houston Rockets as he will either get to the rim or make outside shots. He does well in the pick-and-roll and Notre Dame ran a very NBA-like space-and-space system. This is a great fit for Houston.
Lucas: At 6’5" Grant possesses great height for the point guard position, and he showed a good ability to get in the lane and create offense for his teammates, during his four years at Notre Dame, averaging 5.8 assists per game for his career. Grant was also a competent scorer for the Fighting Irish, averaging 19 points per game his junior year, though his average did drop last season to 16.5 points per game. The biggest aspect of Grant’s game that he needs to improve is his three point shooting, as he shot a career low 31.6% from behind the arc last season.
While I don’t believe that Grant is as poor of a long range shooter as that number suggests, he will certainly need to improve, especially as a spot up shooter, if he is going to provide Houston the lift they are looking for. Defensively, Grant has great height and length to guard the point guard position, and his foot speed is impressive for his height. However, he will need to put on more muscle in order to be able to hold his own on the defensive end, and finish at the rim. The concern when it comes to Grant is that he is 22 years old, and still looks like he needs a good amount of development, especially in terms of adding muscles, despite spending four years at Notre Dame. The Rockets were only able to muster one win versus eventual NBA champion the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Arguably, the most glaring issue for the Rockets in that series was the lack of a true point guard who could run the offense and take the pressure off of James Harden, and also the inability to guard Steph Curry on the defensive side of the ball. Grant was selected as an immediate fix to that problem by the Rockets own admission, and he will need to improve his jump shot and add weight quickly if is he going to help them make a push for a title next season.