Jerami Grant has been the talk of the season for Detroit Pistons fans, and while he’s been amazing us, he’s even starting to get some outside observers to notice. When he struck the deal in Detroit, the assumption was Grant was coming to be the focal point of the Pistons offense. I even went so far as thinking they might try to play him a little bit as a playmaking wing. But never did I think that from the start of his first season in a Motown uniform, not only would he be the main cog of Detroit’s offense, and not only would he try to expand his non-existent playmaking role, but that he would thrive doing, well, everything for the Pistons.
First, the focus was almost exclusively on his surprisingly skilled offense — both shooting and attacking the basket. Jerami started the season as an above average bucket getter who could score points with great efficiency and volume from distance, at the rim and from free-throw line. Having a three-level scorer was what intrigued new GM Troy Weaver, and it is one of the pillars of Dwane Casey’s offensive philosophy.
But it wasn’t enough for Grant, so he tried to do more. At first, he increased his scoring even further by upping his volume of shots. It didn’t work well, however. It seems that at the moment, a proper limit for him is about 20 shots a game. Whenever he crosses that line (the situation has occurred three times, two of them when Blake didn’t play), his efficiency goes down.
Hence, now he’s trying something different. Namely, Jerami doubled his assist numbers, starting to look like an incredibly dangerous weapon for a modern offense – a scoring wing that also creates for others.
As to the numbers. If we divide the season into three four-game weeks, in the first week, Grant collected seven assists. He had six dimes in the second week. In his current segment, he amassed 13. Owing to that modest bump, for the season he’s averaging a best number of assists in his career (2.2). And, in contrast to more shooting, being a willing passer for perhaps the first time in his career doesn’t seem to be showing any downside (…unless we count two wins Pistons for a tanking team as bad). This doubling of assists number cost him only two additional turnovers (he had five, five and seven turnovers in respective weeks).
But those numbers tell only part of the story. What we need to get the full picture, as we’ll see in these moving pictures, is to understand that those assists are only a fraction of Jerami’s passes that open the opportunity to score for his teammates.It’s because many of those passes are wasted due to Pistons being dead last in FG%.
OK, getting into the details, a portion of Grant’s passes/assists are the ones “old” Grant had too. Those are outlet passes after securing a defensive rebound (but now there should be more of them because, yes, Jerami is making a progress in defensive rebounding department as well) or passes made while moving the ball on perimeter.
Grant’s outlet pass
Grant moving the ball on perimeter
Of course, these will always be a part of his game, but we are much more eager to see what comes next. And next come the ones Jerami is able to do because of his new scoring role with the Pistons.
Among this group we encounter, first, transitional passes.
They are transitional not only because they’re made in transition but also because, on the one hand, they’re a little like outlet passes but, on the other hand, Detroit’s leading scorer is able to make them because now the ball seeks him (or he just grabs it and goes) in transition as a playmaker. You can tell that Jerami sees the floor well and can find a teammate in the best position to score.
Second, in this group we find passes Jerami is able to make genuinely and completely thanks to him successfully playing the role of wing scorer. Those are the passes he makes in drives, in which he’s now drawing additional defender(s) since he’s so good in them.
As we can see, he can hit teammate inside or on the perimeter, and his vision on kickouts is dope as he sees even what’s behind him.
Similarly, he can hit a teammate inside or on perimeter coming off of P&Rs that are now becoming part of his offensive arsenal.
Here again his play with the ball and ability to score on drives is seen by opponents as so big a threat that he occupies both defenders (or even additional ones). He’s seen as a no less a threat when he posts up smaller players. This also draws double teams that left some teammate open. Jerami will find him.
In his three weeks with the Pistons, Jerami Grant has transformed himself from defensive specialist with a three-point shot into a well-rounded scorer who happens to be also defensive specialist. After doubling his scoring average by becoming 13th bucket getter in the entire league and, thus, giving Pistons fans something to cheer about during what promises to be a losing season, he’s still willing to improve. The creating for others avenue is a huge potential for further growth, and he looks to be willing to work on that part of his game. It will be fun to watch Jerami’s progress as a distributor throughout the season.