Few months playing in Greece were more than enough for former NBA guard Jerian Grant to become completely enamored with the European style of basketball.
At first it was his own personal experience with Promitheas Patras in his maiden venture outside his native U.S.. Grant officially joined the team and older brother Jerai on New Year’s Eve, transitioned extremely quickly to foreign, overseas surroundings and a totally different, previously unknown to him brand of hoops to soon establish himself as a dominant guard in the Greek League.
Grant went on to average team-highs 15.2 points (on rather efficient 54.1 percent on 2-pointers, 46.0 percent on 3-point attempts) and 6.06 assists (also a league second-best) plus 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals to push Promitheas into finishing third in the regular season. In the playoffs, he produced 14.1 points plus 7.9 assists,5.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals as his team made the semifinals.
“I admit I was a little nervous about coming over to play in Europe for my first time but now I can’t imagine desiring to play any other type of basketball,” Grant told Eurohoops to describe the impact that his run with Promitheas had on him.
It wasn’t just Grant’s first-hand taste that made him fascinated with the European game. When he was getting a chance to catch some EuroLeague action, he felt filled with childlike excitement. “I was like a kid watching them and I want to experience it for sure myself,” he said.
The goal for the now free agent Grant is clear. After playing 287 games through five seasons in the NBA, the 28-year-old guard is looking to dive deeper into European basketball and help a team achieve greatness. That’s what he explained in the following Q&A session with Eurohoops on his free agency mindset and the ambition he has to contribute to a championship-aspiring, winning project.
Eurohoops: You come from the first overseas experience in your career. How do you assess your run with Promitheas in Greece?
Jerian Grant: “It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my entire professional career. I can not say enough positive things about my experience with Promitheas. I admit I was a little nervous about coming over to play in Europe for my first time but now I can’t imagine desiring to play any other type of basketball. I never imagined I would enjoy playing in Europe as much as I have. But it’s truly been a lot of fun.”
EH: Considering the differences between how the game is played in the NBA and in Europe, what was the most difficult part of your adaptation and what came easy to you?
J.G.: “I think just the different style of play. In Europe they allow for much more physicality and the game is played at a different pace. But once I realized that it was a game that was so suited for me I thrived in it and got to understand it so much better.”
EH: Do you feel that you became a better player during these months? If yes, then how?
J.G.: “I absolutely feel like I got better. The game in Europe forces you to ‘play the right way’ and to rely on your basketball instincts. It definitely heightened and enhanced my instincts and I love how much defense is appreciated in the European game because that is one of my main strengths and allowed me to thrive in Greece.”
EH.: You are a free agent. How do you approach this offseason? What are your goals?
J.G.: “My main goal is to continue to grow my game. I loved my experience at Promitheas and I’m not ruling them out as an option. But I want to see what opportunities the ‘market’ brings to me and once I see that I will make the best decision for me and my family from a playing standpoint; status (of the team) standpoint; and financial standpoint. My agent and I talk regularly on this and it’s exciting for me. This is probably the most excited I have ever been in a free agency.”
EH: Where do you ideally see yourself next season? Back in the NBA or trying to establish yourself with a top European club?
J.G.: “I want to see how far I can go in the European game. I have experienced the NBA and have a pretty good feel for how it works. I really want to see how far I can take my game here in Europe. I like it here. It suits me well.”
EH: If a EuroLeague contender asked you what you can contribute to help them win the championship, what would you answer?
JG: “My answer would be simple: My number one basketball skill is my ability to contribute to winning. When put in a position to lead I can impact winning and wherever I go next season whether it is Euroleague or EuroCup or the Basketball Champions League or wherever, I can assure you right now: We will win or I will die trying.”
EH: How much EuroLeague did you watch? Was there anything specific that caught your attention, impressed you or even surprised you perhaps?
J.G.: “I watched it a lot! The thing that caught my attention the most was the magnitude of the games and how many people were watching them and were captivated by them. I was like a kid watching them and I want to experience it for sure myself. I LOVED it!”
EH: What is the ideal team situation for Jerian Grant? What is the role that you prefer to have on a team, the one that you feel it suits you more on the floor and the one in which you can deliver your best game?
J.G.: “The ideal situation for me is a team that values winning above all and everything else. A team that encourages playing ‘the right way’. A team where EVERYONE works together (coach, management, players…) towards one common goal. WINNING. And I can’t wait to find that team for myself in the coming weeks. My role only needs to be that I want to be a rotation player that contributes to that winning.”