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Jerian Grant grew up around the Bullets and Wizards, now he plays for their G-League affiliate

Jerian Grant grew up around the Bullets and Wizards, now he plays for their G-League affiliate

WASHINGTON -- Jerian Grant can recall serving as a ballboy for the Washington Bullets in the late 1990s, catching rebounds for Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland. Grant would wear team gear and dream of being just like the players someday. Now, at 27 years old, he is on the Capital City Go-Go and part of the same NBA organization that his father, Harvey, played seven seasons for.

Jerian, a four-year NBA veteran, is trying to work his way back to the league after a brief stint in China. He was claimed by the Go-Go off waivers just over a week ago and hopes to earn another NBA deal, possibly with his hometown team.

"This is good for me. I feel like I'm back home and I'm feeling comfortable," Jerian told NBC Sports Washington.

Like his father, Jerian was drafted by Washington. He was the 19th overall pick in 2015 and traded on draft night to the Knicks in a three-team deal that brought Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Wizards.

Jerian grew up a "huge Wizards fan," he says and would have loved to start his NBA career in Washington. Instead, he played for the Knicks for one season before spending two years with the Bulls and then last season with the Orlando Magic.

Jerian is a 6-foot-4 combo guard who is known for his hard-nosed defense. On offense, he is a sound floor general with a decent outside shot, as he hit 36.4 percent of his threes last season.

Whether Jerian ever plays for the Wizards or not, the fact the latest stop in his basketball career is in D.C. means a lot to the Grant family. Harvey now lives in the Annapolis, Md. area and is just an hour drive away from the Go-Go's arena in Ward 8.

Harvey has another NBA son, Jerami, who plays for the Denver Nuggets. Whenever Jerian or Jerami's teams would be in town to play the Wizards, Harvey would show up at Capital One Arena to watch. For now, he can see Jerian much more often.

"It's awesome. I can just get in my car and drive down," Harvey said.

Back when Harvey was playing for the Bullets, the Grants lived in Bowie, Md. Jerian and his brothers would often have neighborhood kids over to play pick-up games, which according to him featured "a lot of fights and a lot of crying."

The Grant brothers went on to play high school ball at DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md. Jerian later played at the University of Notre Dame before joining the NBA ranks.

There is a stigma among college basketball coaches about kids from well-off families and about those who descend from NBA players. They call them 'three-car garage kids' and the assumption is they will not put in the necessary work or be hungry enough to make it.

That certainly wasn't the case for the Grant brothers. 

"When they wanted to play, I sat them down and said 'don't play because of me, play because you love the game.' They said 'pops, we love the game,'" Harvey said. 

"You can tell when somebody loves the game. They get up at 5:30 in the morning and go to DeMatha and practice, then go to practice and then stay after practice. They did all of that."

Jerian remembers it similarly. Being around the game of basketball his entire life, and seeing up close what it was like to be an NBA player, he did everything he could to become one.

"I love the game. From when I can remember, I was in love with it. I wanted to be great. To be great and to make it to the NBA, I knew that you had to work really, really hard," he said.

Jerian would work with now-Wizards assistant Dave Adkins often before school started at DeMatha. Those extra hours, he believes, got him to where he is today.

Now the Grants are hoping that same work ethic can get Jerian back to basketball's highest level.

"He belongs in the NBA," Harvey said.

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Bradley Beal thinks Rui Hachimura will be a small forward long-term

Bradley Beal thinks Rui Hachimura will be a small forward long-term

Whether it actually matters is debatable, but what position Rui Hachimura best profiles for long-term has been a point of contention among fans and media members ever since he was drafted by the Wizards ninth overall last summer. He is what not long ago would be described as a 'tweener,' or somewhat of a cross between a small forward and a power forward.

Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal has put some thought into it and has now weighed in. He thinks Hachimura will be a small forward.

"Honestly, I think Rui is going to end up being a three. When his career is over with, he's going to end up playing the three," Beal explained during Sunday's Wizards-Nets broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

"I don't know what that's going to look like next year or what we're going to jump to, but you can see spurts of it. You can see he can handle the ball, he's comfortable with handling the ball. Obviously, we can improve that and make that better. He shoots the three comfortably."

That last point could probably be picked apart a bit and it does hold some importance in the argument. If Hachimura is indeed going to be a small forward, he will need to add some perimeter skills to his game.

Three-point shooting would be included in there and so far there certainly seems to be room for improvement. This season, he is shooting just 27 percent from three on 1.7 attempts per game. 

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In the three games the Wizards have played in Orlando, Hachimura is 0-for-1 from long range. He didn't attempt any threes at all in their first two games of the restart.

The reason why it is an interesting debate is Hachimura doesn't fit the traditional norms for either the three or four position. And that could be a good thing, as former teammate C.J. Miles pointed out in November. When you don't match up perfectly with opponents in any specific position, sometimes that means you are a mismatch for anyone who is guarding you.

Beal himself went on to rave about Hachimura's versatility.

"He's super athletic, so he can use his size to post up. So, the versatility is there. It's just a matter of what we want to mold him into," Beal said. "I think the sky's the limit. He has the ability, he has the work ethic, so I'm definitely excited to see."

RELATED: NBA PLAYERS BRING UP KAWHI COMPARISONS DESPITE RUI'S ROUGH GAME

Hachimura not having a true position could be an advantage. What the Wizards will need to determine, however, is how to complement his skillset with other players as they continue to build their roster. 

Whether Hachimura is a three, a four or even a small-ball five, the best way to maximize his strengths will be to fill in the gaps around him. Putting a rim protector alongside him, for instance, would allow him to roam and switch on defense. Having teammates who space the floor will create openings in the midrange, where he is very effective scoring the ball.

Those involve more important questions than what position Hachimura will ultimately be defined by. But it's still a fun debate to have and now even Beal has been drawn into it.

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Troy Brown Jr. closing game at PG is perfect example of value Wizards see in Disney restart

Troy Brown Jr. closing game at PG is perfect example of value Wizards see in Disney restart

The Wizards were the final team included in the NBA's restart in Orlando, FL and with that brought some potential pitfalls, some of which Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans certainly weighed for themselves before choosing not to go. There is also the potential they hurt their lottery odds or even get screwed by the league's adjusted lottery rules.

But the Wizards chose to look at the situation as glass half-full and not half-empty. They embraced the opportunity to play more basketball and viewed the final 11 games (three exhibition, eight real ones) as a unique circumstance for player development.

On Monday in their loss to the Pacers, we saw a perfect example of that. They played a certified perennial playoff team, one with an airtight defensive structure. And they were able to push them at the end while using a lineup completely full of young players.

The final lineup for the Wizards, from the 5:56 mark on, had Troy Brown Jr. at point guard, Jerome Robinson at the two, Isaac Bonga at the three, Rui Hachimura at the four and Thomas Bryant at center. All five players are 23 or younger and Bryant, now in his third NBA season, is the most experienced of the bunch.

Head coach Scott Brooks saw immense value in that stretch where he was able to put some of the Wizards' youngest players into unfamiliar roles.

"We have to see what we have in a lot of different positions. These are great minutes," he said. "That's why we're here. We're here to get better and we're here to improve."

Most notable was the backcourt. Though Bonga, Hachimura and Bryant have taken on more responsibility with Beal and Bertans out, they have played those positions in crunch time before.

For Brown and Robinson, it was a different look from what they are used to seeing. Robinson would normally be sitting in favor of Beal and Brown would not be playing point guard. Ish Smith or Shabazz Napier would instead be out there, depending on who had the hot hand.

Brown has played plenty of point guard in his life, and he holds a preference for the position. But he has only played it sparingly so far in his two NBA seasons, not enough to even register on his Basketball Reference position estimate breakdown.

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On Monday, Brown got to let loose and be the floor general. He responded well with three points and three assists during the final six minutes. The Wizards were down 13 when he checked in and cut the lead to seven before Indiana closed them out.

"I enjoyed it," Brown said. "For me, it felt natural. Today, I had more turnovers than I would like. But I feel comfortable calling out the offense, bringing the ball up and just initiating the offense and getting us into a flow."

It wasn't much, but it may have been a preview of more to come. Brooks, in fact, suggested Brown could start at point guard in one of the team's remaining five games. 

"There might be another game where Troy maybe starts at the point, you never know. He has to be ready," Brooks said. "We have played him in that before. We did it during the season and I wouldn't be surprised if we did it sometime during the next five games."

Brooks wasn't asked about Brown potentially starting at point, he brought it up himself. If he does go that route, it would make plenty of sense.

The Wizards are using their time at Disney World to develop young players, which they have plenty of. But they don't have one in their usual point guard rotation. Brown can play the position, so if they fully commit to playing youngsters, he would be the guy.

The Wizards' final five opponents are tough ones: the Sixers, Pelicans, Thunder, Bucks and Celtics. Those teams feature some really good point guards like Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Eric Bledsoe, Jrue Holiday and Kemba Walker. 

But two match-ups stand out as arguably the best for Brown. With Ben Simmons now playing forward, he could try his hand against Shake Milton of the Sixers, whom the Wizards play on Wednesday.

Or, what would be really intriguing is when the Wizards play the Pelicans in their following game, on Friday. New Orleans has Lonzo Ball, who is about Brown's size and would be great barometer for him on both ends of the floor. 

Either way, if Brooks does indeed give Brown a game to start and play heavy minutes at point guard, the Wizards' time in Orlando will all of a sudden become a lot more interesting.

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