Grant selected 19th in NBA Draft, traded to Knicks; Connaughton goes 41st, shipped to Portland
Manuel De Jesus | Thursday, June 25, 2015
After leading Notre Dame to a 32-6 record, its first ever ACC championship and a run to the Elite Eight, Jerian Grant can now add being a first-round pick in the NBA Draft to his list of accomplishments.
After waiting a little more than 30 minutes, Grant shook NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s hand as the Washington Wizards selected the guard 19th overall Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. But while it was technically the Wizards, as owners of the 19th pick, who selected Grant, a flurry of trades meant the New York Knicks have the rights to Grant.
“It’s really truly a blessing,” Grant said after being drafted. “I just want to come out here and prove that I belong and make a name for myself. I’m a winner.”
As part of a three-team trade, the Wizards sent Grant to the Knicks, who sent Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks, who sent Kelly Oubre, of Kansas, to the Wizards.
Grant, who averaged 16.5 points, 6.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game in his senior season, was the eighth guard selected in the draft. Before the draft, he was projected by most experts to go somewhere in the range of the 18th to 22nd picks.
Now, with the Knicks, Grant will be asked to take a step back from the spotlight, playing alongside Carmelo Anthony and No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis. Grant’s passing skills are expected to mesh well with the triangle offense practiced by head coach Derek Fisher and team president Phil Jackson.
“[The triangle offense] requires someone with high basketball IQ” Grant said. “I think im one of those guys. I’ll pick up the offense quickly and help the guys around me.”
Grant is confident in the potential offensive production the Knicks can create with Anthony and Porzingis with that offensive scheme.
“[Carmelo] and Kris, two great players, will definitely open things up for me,” Grant said.
Grant mentioned that before the draft, he and Porzingas talked about potential landing spots and discussed Porzingas’s desire to play for the Knicks. Grant said he had no idea that he would eventually be playing with Porzingas this year for the Knicks.
Last season, the Knicks finished 17-65, the second worst record in the league. Their regular point guard, Jose Calderon dished out 4.7 assists per game.
When asked what he can contribute to the Knicks, Grant said he could come in and immediately create plays.
“I make the guys around me a lot better,’ Grant said. “I can give them the open looks.”
Despite being the highest drafted Irish player since Ryan Humphrey was drafted 19th by the Jazz in 2002, Grant said his father, Harvey Grant, and uncle, Horace Grant, who both played in the NBA, told him it is one thing to make it to the NBA and another to stay there.
Twenty-two picks later, it looked as though Grant and Pat Connaughton would both be playing in the Big Apple, but another trade just minutes later broke up that outcome.
Connaughton was picked by the Brooklyn Nets with the 41st pick, making it the first time Notre Dame has had two players drafted since LaPhanso Ellis and Elmer Bennett in 1992 . Like Grant, Connaughton was traded after being picked, this time to the Portland Trailblazers along with Mason Plumlee for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who was the 23rd pick in the draft, and veteran Steve Blake.
The combo guard/forward posted 12.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and just under a block per game last season, along with a 42.3 percentage mark from beyond the arc.
Before this past season, many thought Connaughton would stick to baseball after being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round. However, Connaughton has made clear that basketball is priority after returning to Notre Dame last season to play during his last season of eligibility.