When Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee signed with Detroit Pistons this, the reaction featured little applause and a plenty of mockery. Fans and prognosticators alike thought the pair, who played together with the Denver Nuggets, were overpaid and out of place with the rebuilding Pistons.
So far, they’ve proven their doubters wrong.
Plumlee has been one of the better all-around performers among centers in the NBA, while Grant merited legitimate consideration for the All-Star Game.
Both were recognized for their efforts by USA Basketball after being named among the 57 finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s National Team that will head to Tokyo this summer.
“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible. These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that,” managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a release. “Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”
Grant, who is averaging a career-best 23.4 points per game to go with 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists, was among 15 newcomers added to the list. Plumlee has been involved in the USA program for years and was part of the 42 players announced as finalists in February 2020, back when the Olympics were slated to be played this past summer.
The pandemic, of course, delayed the Games a year.
Realistically, the odds are slim that either makes the team. Big men like Bam Adebayo, Myles Turner, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green provide Team USA with better versatility on both ends of the floor than Plumlee.
Grant has blossomed this season, but there are so many good wings in this player pool. I do think he can be a valuable role player with a star-studded group in Tokyo. I don’t know if he’s better than the likes of Khris Middleton, Gordon Hayward, or Jimmy Butler in that specialized wing role, but it’s certainly possible.
Former Pistons like Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Christian Wood, and Tobias Harris are also in the running for a roster spot. The teams training schedule will be announced at a later date.