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Why Tulsa's Struggles Should Not Overshadow Grant Jerrett's Evident Progress

The Tulsa 66ers may be reeling, but such struggles shouldn't overshadow the evident progress first overall NBA D-League Draft pick Grant Jerrett has been making as of late.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

As teams like the Iowa Energy and Idaho Stampede continue to make massive strides towards big time turnarounds from last season, a squad like the Tulsa 66ers has slipped through the cracks, and has fallen hard.

With a 1-11 record heading into Friday, the 66ers own the D-League's worst overall record to date.

Despite the fact that the NBADL's number one objective is to develop promising young guns into some of the key players of tomorrow's NBA, it goes without saying that playing to win is never a bad goal, either.

And while the 66ers haven't been able to rack up the victories as of late, there's no doubt they host one of the league's most intriguing players in town anyway.

Following an impressive playoff seeding last season, Tulsa went on to acquire the first overall selection in this past fall's D-League Draft. The team used the pick to snag Grant Jerrett, the forward whose NBA draft rights were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder following a second round selection by the Blazers.

The Arizona product never went on to sign an actual contract with OKC, but they nevertheless still own his rights. Thus, as a rule, no other NBA team is allowed to call Jerrett up from the D-League before acquiring such rights from the Thunder first. Employing him to play for the 66ers allows the Kevin Durant-led squad to monitor his progress and evaluate him further as the months go on without fear of anyone else trying to snatch Jerrett up first.

Playing for OKC's affiliate, Jerrrett has certainly impressed thus far, despite not being able to lead his team to many victories just yet. Still, his individual skill set is undoubtedly an intriguing one, to say the least.

Quite the versatile forward, Jerrett's varied talents should earn him comparisons to Durant. As mentioned, this has to do with the types of things each player can do on the court, and much less each one's talent level at this point, of course.

Having said that, the 20 year old is still putting up impressive numbers for Tulsa. Through ten contests, he's averaging 17.2 points (on 40% from the field and 31% from deep), 6.6 rebounds, and 1 block per game.

Jerrett is certainly the go-to-guy in Tulsa. A player who can fill it up by pouring the ball in the hoop from an array of different spots on the court, the big man is also an 88% free throw shooter as well.

As a second round NBA draft pick and still just 20 years old, Jerrett needs more time to fine tune his skills a bit more. His exclusivity to the 66ers (i.e. his draft rights belonging to the Thunder) helps his minor league situation draw more parallels to that of a baseball one than a basketball one. Still, that's by no means a bad thing.

Jerrett can put the ball on the floor, dribble it, or pop, lock, and shoot it from anywhere on the court. His rebounding will continue to improve with more reps against respective formidable competition, and his instincts on the defensive end will also further sharpen themselves following more experience.

Luckily for Jerrett, time is definitely on his side. As fate would have it, so are the Thunder, as proven by their efforts to acquire the first pick of the NBADL Draft simply to select him from the get go.

With a player like Durant leading the way, there's no doubt OKC is the type of team that appreciates an up and coming player with a skill set like that. What's more, after watching guys like Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson climb up through the ranks and rise up as key role players (following time in the D-League), it's more than sensible to suggest Jerrett has a rather bright future ahead of him, despite his minor league team's early season struggles.