Observations: Grant’s early performances with Pistons make him an All-Star candidate

Detroit News

Rod Beard
| The Detroit News

The Pistons got their first road win of the season Saturday, taking a 120-100 victory over the Miami Heat, in their most complete outing of the season. They had 34 assists on 46 field goals and shot 51% from the field.

Although the Heat were shorthanded because of several injuries and players in COVID protocols, the Pistons played a superior second half and held on for the victory.

Here are some takeaways from the Pistons’ win, which improved them to 3-9.

The whole bag: Jerami Grant showed the complete repertoire, on both ends of the court. He has had outstanding offensive games, and he notched his 11th straight game with at least 20 points, but also showed on the defensive end that he can be a game-changer, with four blocks. He’s showing more and more that he’s worth more than the $60 million that he got in free agency and if he keeps progressing, he could be on the verge of reaching All-Star status in the Eastern Conference. Grant also showed his passing ability, with a season-high six assists. The first unit looked more linked together with Blake Griffin and Grant distributing the ball, part of the Pistons’ 34 assists.

►Thinning the rotation: Pistons coach Dwane Casey had been playing with something of an extended bench group, but trimmed that list to 10, with Derrick Rose playing mostly with the second unit of Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya and Isaiah Stewart. That grouping played with a lot of energy and combined for 52 of the 120 points, including 23 points from Rose. Notably, Svi Mykhailiuk and Jahlil Okafor, who had been key parts of the reserve unit, didn’t play until the final minutes of the game. That’s not to say that Casey has locked the rotation, but he continues to move players in and out of the second group.

►Blooming the Rose: After missing the last two games because of left knee soreness, Rose returned with a boost, lifting the second unit with his speed and quickness and getting them going in transition. He was an efficient 8-of-12 from the field and had three 3-pointers, which showed more of the diversity in his game. The bench group is better with Rose leading it and in games that Rose misses, Saben Lee can continue to develop in that role.

►Jackson’s turn: Josh Jackson continued to try to find his rhythm after his return from his ankle injury that sidelined him for two games. In the six games before the injury, Jackson averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds; in the three games since, that production had dipped to six points and 1.7 rebounds. More than that, his shooting has dipped, to 6-of-24 field goals in the three games, after starting 49% from the field. It’s going to take some time for him to get back in a good groove, and his 3-of-12 field goals Saturday and 2-of-9 on 3-pointers is just another move toward getting his shooting touch back.

►Rookie energy: Rookie Isaiah Stewart has earned plenty of comparisons for his constant activity on the court, but Casey came up with a new one Saturday, calling him a Tasmanian Devil. It’s an apt comparison, given Stewart’s energy on the court in getting on the offensive glass and finding rebounds. In 19 minutes, Stewart posted a season-high 10 points with 11 rebounds, for his first career double-double before fouling out. He played well, with some high-energy rebounds and went 4-of-6 from the field and split the playing time at backup center behind Mason Plumlee.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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