Hey, haters: Jerami Grant is proving his contract was worth Detroit Pistons’ investment

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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During the first two quarters of Tuesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, it looked as though Jerami Grant might’ve been slowing down after a strong start to the season.

At halftime, he had eight points on 2 of 12 shooting. He mostly stuck to the playbook that worked for him previously — attacking the rim, initiating contact and taking open 3-pointers.

Initially, it didn’t have the same pay off. 

But after halftime, Grant went back to being the Detroit Pistons’ best player. He made seven of his nine attempts in the second half, including a perfect 5-for-5 in the third quarter, and finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. 

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And though the Pistons lost to the Warriors, 116-106, at Little Caesars Arena, Grant showed, once again, he can be a dependable scorer and handle a larger role than he has had at any point in his career. 

“It’s a process, we’re four games into the season,” Grant said postgame. “Still getting used to the new team, new everything. I think we’ll be fine. It’s definitely a bigger role for me, that’s one of the reasons why I came here.” 

It was Grant’s third-straight game of at least 20 points, the first time in his career reaching the milestone. Grant left a contending Denver Nuggets team for the Pistons to prove he could be a primary offensive option, rather than just a 3-and-D role player. It’s still early in the season, but Grant’s starting to show the Pistons’ gamble on him, and his gamble on himself, was merited. 

Through four games, Grant is averaging 22.8 points, six rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 blocks and a steal while shooting 47% overall, 36.7% from the 3-point line and 85.7% at the line. He’s leading the Pistons in minutes played (149), shot attempts and makes (66 and 31), 3-point attempts (30), and free-throw attempts (21).

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Coach Dwane Casey hasn’t been able to leave him on the bench for long stretches as the Pistons continue to figure out how to gel. Grant is averaging 37.3 minutes per game, by far his career-high, though that includes 43 minutes played in the double-overtime loss Saturday vs. Cleveland.  

Grant’s play hasn’t surprised Casey, who, like general manager Troy Weaver, was high on Grant’s game before he joined the organization.

“He was an excellent 3-point shooter in Denver,” Casey said Tuesday. “He was sneakily doing a good job offensively, I think he was overshadowed a lot by (Nikola) Jokic, when he was playing with them. Jokic is a great player. He had some other dynamic players around him. He kinda got overshadowed.

“We looked at his stats and watched a lot of film on him during his time in Denver and saw the offensive potential that he had. He’s still a growing scorer, go-to guy at that position.”

According to Cleaning The Glass, Grant has been a plus-15.3 on offense, a big lift for an offense still building chemistry. The Pistons are shooting 42.8%, fourth-worst in the NBA. Grant takes most of his shots from 3 or at the rim, and it’s a big reason why he has been the most efficient player on the roster.

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The Pistons signed him to help establish the culture. And despite starting the season 0-4, his aggressiveness on both ends of the floor has been tone-setting. 

“This is new for him to be the go-to guy and he’s taking it on with two hands,” Casey said. “It’s good to see. The other good thing about it, he’s not a finished product, which is great.” 

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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