By Michael Kinney
Jerami Grant has been with the Oklahoma City Thunder since Nov. 1. Since then, he has played in three games but only took part in one practice, which came Sunday afternoon.
Despite his lack of knowledge and experience with the Thunder, Grant has been a diamond in the rough for the team, averaging 6.4 points and three rebounds coming off the bench.
In Grant’s first home game on Friday night against Minnesota, he blocked four shots and came up with a monster dunk over Cole Aldrich that got the fans out of their seats.
As Grant gets more accustomed to his new team, Thunder coach Billy Donovan sees the versatile forward becoming a bigger factor as the season goes on.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge offensively, just being honest,” Donovan said. “It’s not his fault or anybody’s fault. We just haven’t had any practice time yet. Because of his versatility, the hard part for him has been that the last two games he has played two different positions — the small forward spot and the power forward spot.”
Grant will most likely see time at power forward on Monday night when the Thunder (5-1) play host to Miami (2-3) at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Heat’s Hassan Whiteside has been on a tear, despite his team not playing particularly well.
The Heat are coming off a 96-87 loss to Toronto on Friday night. Whiteside led Miami with 21 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field. He also grabbed 16 rebounds.
“He was tremendous, really impact. He’s playing hard and he’s making better reads on both ends of the court,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He just has to keep building and he’s doing that in big minutes, too.”
But it will be the play of another Miami player that should catch the attention of Oklahoma City fans. Guard Dion Waiters will be playing his first game in Oklahoma City since leaving the team in the offseason when the two sides were unable to come together on a new contract.
However, Waiters told The Palm Beach Post that if Kevin Durant had decided to stay with the Thunder, he wouldn’t be wearing a different uniform right now.
“At the end of the day, if they would have kept it together, I’m pretty sure I would have went back one more year to see what we could do because we were 24 minutes away from the finals,” Waiters told the Post. “Once things went the way it went I kind of knew.”
Waiters went on to sign a two-year, $5.9 million deal with the Heat. He is averaging 11 points on 35 percent shooting from the field through five games as he replaces former Miami legend Dwyane Wade.
Waiters’ former teammates know what he will bring to the game for Miami.
“When he got here, the ball would stop when he would get in,” Oklahoma City’s Nick Collison said. “By the end, he was really good at shooting open shots, driving and moving it. Defensively, I was really impressed with him. He was probably one of our best two-way wing players.