Jerami Grant Continues to Clean Up Betting On Himself.
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
"My growth as a player is extremely important to me. This was just a challenge for me." was Jerami Grant's sentiment about joining the Pistons this year. His is a name that has been in the ether of basketball for years now, but as a journeyman who was not more than a 3 and D specialist. This has been the scouting report on him for his entire career, never being considered a top level talent, more of a really good player that you hope can get better. This season has led to searching for how he arrived here and how he has, only now, truly found individual success that very few thought possible.
Grant played high school basketball at the esteemed DeMatha Catholic High School and was a highly touted recruit, but not top tier. ESPN had him ranked as the 37th ranked high school player of his class and had offers from the middle tier of ACC teams, but didn't get interest from top tier programs outside of Syracuse, which is where he attended. His scouting report seemed to stay very consistent from this point forward. He is athletic, can't shoot much, is very skinny, and has great defensive moments.
His Syracuse career was two years long and had some moments, but beyond highlights of his athleticism, his time there was average. His freshman year he averaged 14 minutes per game and took a grand total of 15 3PT shots. He was gaining a knack for all sorts of deflections due to his 7'2" wingspan and his ability to get above the rim was catching eyes as well. His sophomore year he started 20 games, played 31 minutes per game, and managed to put up a very respectable 12.1 points per game. He only shot 5 3PT shots all season... this no doubt led to him being drafted in the second round as a slashing, defensive specialist.
Being drafted 39th overall by the Sixers in 2014 was probably a god send because Philadelphia wasn't that good during this time frame and he was able to get some real playing time. As a rookie he got 21 minutes per game and in his second season with the team that jumped all the way up to 26. Second round picks hardly ever receive that kind of playing time in their first two seasons and allowed his raw potential to get some refinement. Fans could see his ability to adjust opponents shots, score at times, and even get rebounds. This time was huge for his growth as a player, and had he not gotten injured his third season, he may have made the jump this year back in 2015. He would've gotten more playing time on that Sixers team and who knows how his career could've been different. The next two teams he played on already had dominant players that would hold back his development.
In 2016 Grant arrived in Oklahoma City just after Kevin Durant left for the Warriors and had a very difficult time making an impact on that team. They were trying to win and the basketball rarely left Russel Westbrook's hands all season, which needs to happen to average a triple double for an entire season. All three of his seasons in OKC were played alongside of Westbrook and while he did manage meaningful minutes in his last year there, he still was relegated to defense and open shots while deferring to Russell nearly every possession. This is where is shooting percentages started to rise though. His last full season in Philadelphia he shot 24% from behind the arc. By the time he left Oklahoma City he had worked his 3PT% up to 39% and you could really see a budding offensive star coming.
At the end of his third season with the Thunder he was traded during their rebuild to a very good Denver Nuggets team that ended up making a postseason run that ended in the Western Conference Finals loss to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. He took on hard defensive assignments, knocked down open 3's, and scored on back door cuts all year long and played a huge role in their team success. He never received much credit though because he was overshadowed by Jamal Murray and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. Even with an offer very similar to Detroit, Denver couldn't retain Grant's services because they were just too talented and he knew that he was ready to take a leap.
The most shocking element of Grant's time in Detroit is that his minutes, shots, and responsibilities are up and his shooting %'s and efficiency numbers have stayed the same. From watching games his understanding of how to get to his spots and get the opportunities he wants. The few games he has started slow he'll get to the free throw line, where he is shooting an outstanding 87%, and find ways to keep his offense potent without shooting us out of games. Through 11 games he has been better than I could've imagined and to say my season preview was wrong is an understatement. Whether you think that his success makes him a building block for the future or a strangely solid trade asset, the common ground is that Jerami Grant has been great and has will be a joy to watch throughout a potentially tough year.
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