Detroit Pistons’ Jerami Grant: ‘We got a lot of talented young guys’
Jerami Grant reacts after the Pistons’ loss to Pacers, and explains why he thinks the team can take a big leap forward next season, April 24, 2021.
The end of the season is rapidly approaching for the Detroit Pistons. And they have a chance to build some momentum before their final game against the Miami Heat on May 16.
The Pistons have 11 games remaining, nine of which at home. It’ll bring some welcomed relief for a young team that’s played a road-heavy schedule thus far. Saturday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers marked the end of a three-game road trip. Their remaining two road games will both be one-game swings before they return back home.
After a nine-month wait for the 2020-21 season to start, it’s hard to believe it’ll be over in three short weeks. Here’s who’s trending up and down as we near the end of April.
The two-way guard’s production hasn’t dropped off since our last stock watch two weeks ago. Since April 12, Jackson is averaging 11.9 points in 22.9 minutes per game, shooting 47.6% overall and 37.8% from 3. He’s slowly transitioning from being one of the roster’s best shooters to one of its best overall scorers. In that span, only Jerami Grant, Josh Jackson and Isaiah Stewart are averaging more points per 100 possessions.
Jackson has been particularly effective from the corners this season, hitting 56% off his corner 3’s, according to Cleaning The Glass. That puts him in the 96th percentile among wings. He’s also been effective defensively. The Pistons outscore opposing teams by 2.4 points per 100 possession while Jackson is on the floor, largely because of his defensive impact.
He has significantly outperformed his two-way contract. He’s limited in some ways — at 6 feet 3, he’s smaller than many NBA wings and doesn’t have the playmaking chops to be a full-time point guard. But Jackson has played like an elite shooter this past month, and combined with his defensive effort, it’s been tough for Dwane Casey to leave him on the bench for long stretches.
“He fits the same time frame as our other draft picks and our growth process,” Casey recently said. “He’s probably one of our best shooters, and one thing, our analytical guys were giving me all the numbers. He’s one of our top net rating guys, as far as offense and defense, when he’s on the floor. The offense is clicking and on the floor, the defense is clicking. That was shocking to me. … He’s always where he’s supposed to be defensively. He has a ton of energy, plays hard every minute he’s on the floor. Doesn’t seem to get tired. He’s just scratching the surface of who he is.”
The rookie big man recently played the three best games of his young NBA career, all in subsequent order. In three straight games from April 16-19, he had the following stat lines:
• 15 points, 21 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 32 minutes
• 19 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes
• 18 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and three steals in 32 minutes
Stewart’s 21-rebound performance made him the first Pistons rookie to secure at least 20 in a game since Leon Douglas snagged 22 in 1977. His three-straight double-doubles was the longest streak for any Pistons rookie since Greg Monroe had four-in-a-row in 2011. Stewart has been impressive this season, but he’s played some of his best basketball in April.
Diallo closed the month of March on a strong note, putting together consecutive 19-point performances off the bench on March 29 and 31 on 13-for-18 combined shooting. He has since fallen into a slump. Since April 11, he’s hit just six of his 34 shot attempts, one of his five 3-pointers and seven of 14 free throws. Outside of his 11-rebound performance on Saturday, he has struggled to impact games.
It’s probable that Diallo’s shooting struggles are temporary. During his first eight games with the Pistons, he averaged 11.9 points and made 54.7% of his shot attempts. On the season, he’s shooting 46.6% overall.
It isn’t Lee’s fault that injuries forced the two-way guard into the rotation sooner than most would’ve predicted. And it certainly isn’t an indictment on him that he played well enough in February and March to carve out a consistent role in the rotation.
But with Cory Joseph flourishing and Killian Hayes healthy, Lee has seen his minutes decline after starting seven consecutive games from March 27 until April 6. He picked up a “Did Not Play” on Saturday after playing 15 minutes or fewer in three of his last four games.
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