NBA News: Melo-Less OKC Thunder Are ‘Contenders’ In Loaded West, Says Jerami Grant

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Despite losing Carmelo Anthony this offseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still considered as one of the top NBA teams in the deep Western Conference. In the recent ESPN Summer Forecast, the Thunder, who received 16 points, finished third in voting to become Western Conference champions next season.

Though the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, and Houston Rockets are still the favorite teams to battle for Western Conference supremacy, Jerami Grant strongly believes that the Thunder have what it takes to win the 2018-19 NBA championship title. In a recent interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Grant said that the Thunder are “contenders” in the loaded Western Conference.

“I definitely feel like we’re contenders. We have amazing talent on our team, honestly, we’re right up there with the other top teams in the West. We have a great opportunity to do something really special, as long as everyone is focused and everyone is playing their hardest. If that happens, I think we’ll be fine and we’ll definitely get to where we want to get to.”

Jerami Grant, who recently signed a three-year, $27.3 million contract with the Thunder in free agency, will serve as Carmelo Anthony’s replacement in OKC’s starting lineup next season. As Royce Young of ESPN noted, the departure of Anthony will make the Thunder a better team as it will enable them to play more to their identity — fast, athletic, energetic, and defensive. Unlike the 10-time NBA All-Star, Grant is not a ball-dominant player which makes him a perfect fit with Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Grant may not be an explosive scorer like Anthony, but he is someone the Thunder can rely on to defend opposing team’s best player.

Jerami Grant admitted that he is excited for the bigger role that is waiting for him next season. The 24-year-old power forward vowed to do everything he can to prove that he deserves to be part of the Thunder’s starting lineup. As of now, one of his top priorities this offseason is to improve his three-point shooting.

Grant is aware of his inconsistencies from beyond the arc. In his first season with the Thunder, he averaged 37.7 percent from the three-point range, but last season, the percentage dropped to 29.1 percent. So far, he’s trying to get as many game reps in as possible, adding that there is a huge difference between shooting in workouts and shooting in games. Successfully improving his shooting will make him a more valuable piece for the Thunder next season, especially when opposing teams focus their defense on Russell Westbrook and Paul George.