If you would’ve told me two months ago that Jerami Grant would be averaging near 25 points a night, I would have thought you were crazy.
Though I wasn’t one to hate on the Grant signing when it came out of nowhere just hours into the start of free agency, I also did not expect the output Grant has produced game in and game out for the Pistons.
Through 12 games, Grant is averaging 24.8 points per game, grabbing six rebounds a night on nearly 37 minutes per game, and while only at just over two assists, the last four games has shown his improvement in finding the open guy and making one-handed cross court passes with ease.
His shooting splits are nothing to slouch at either. Grant is knocking down 46% of his shots, 39% of his threes while taking 18.5 shots a night.
This all coming from a guy that was a career nine point per game scorer who throughout his career saw the court just 25 minutes a night.
The sample size at the time may be small, but his ability to improve at every facet of the game each and every night makes many think this is a style that Grant can keep up.
Others, however, have been floating around the “good stats bad team” label and on the surface you could understand this title being given to Grant. The Pistons, even after a 20-point win Saturday night over the Heat, are the worst team in the NBA, yet have lost just four games by double digits all season, and none by over 15.
But, in recent memory, that label has been given to guys who don’t affect the game on both sides of the ball like Grant does. Guys like Trae Young from the past few years, Zach LaVine almost his entire career and Devin Booker until his outburst in the bubble happened have all been dubbed empty stat players.
It’s much easier to see the impact made by someone defensively by watching tape, so for the sake of the argument we’ll look at defensive box score Plus/Minus.
Zach LaVine, Devin Booker and Trae Young all have for their career averaged below -1.5 in this stat.
As for Grant, he sits at .3 for his career. Considering the league average has hovered around -.5 the last few seasons, it’s clear Grant is an above average to elite defender, especially when he is drawing one of the toughest assignments on the other team most nights.
Even this season, he is averaging a steal and a block each night; he disrupts the other team’s flow offensively.
That was clearly shown in his performance Saturday night against the Heat.
While he finished with yet another 20 plus point performance, it was on the defensive end that got things going for Grant and the Pistons.
Grant came away with four blocks and two steals, setting the tone for Detroit, which turned into one of the best defensive performances of the year for the team.
His ability to turn defense into instant offense on the other end has been a sight to behold for Piston fans.
While Grant is late to recover in the pick-and-roll in the second clip, his combination of length and speed helps him get to Precious Achuiwa before Achuiwa can even get the ball up.
The third and fourth clips show his ability to stay with ball handlers and either disrupt their shot on the perimeter or near the rim.
As for his two steals linked above, they show him disrupting lob passes towards the rim that over most defenders can get there.
The second comes from Grant dropping to the block from the corner on a Bam Adebayo roll, which gives a good look at his awareness on the court.
Grant’s combination of length and speed gives him the tools to be one of the best true two-way players in the league, and this year looks to be his breakout season.
Grant may not give the love nationally that he deserves, but the bet he made on himself this off-season looks to be paying off better than anyone could have imagined.