Jerami Grant fits Detroit Pistons future

Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

No matter what the future looks like for the Detroit Pistons, Jerami Grant will thrive.

There’s no shortage of internet debate when it comes to the current direction of the Detroit Pistons.

General manager Troy Weaver’s new-look process (which I discussed here) is attempting to find a balance between fielding a competitive NBA roster, and developing the Pistons’ young players.

No player better represents the bridge between that gap than new Pistons forward Jerami Grant.

Only 26 years old, the 6-foot-9, Syracuse University product had already proven he can be an integral part of a contending team, when he helped the Denver Nuggets reach the Western Conference finals a few months ago.

In his current role with the Pistons, Grant is proving there’s another level to his game. Through four games, Grant is averaging 22.8 points a game, 1.0 steals and 1.8 blocks, while shooting 47% from the field and 36% from 3-point land.

He’s been unquestionably the best player on the team. It’s a small sample size, sure, but compare that to Grant’s regular-season numbers from last year of 12.8 PPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG on 47% from the field and 38% from 3.

This is all very good because Grant is being paid roughly $60 million over three years to realize his potential in Detroit, rather than in Denver.

The contract was unexpected but not necessarily a huge overpay. Amongst forwards in the NBA, Grant’s Annual Average Value ranks 27th, according to Sportrac – which puts him in the realm of Harrison Barnes, Julius Randle, Danilo Gallinari, Aaron Gordon, Domantas Sabonis, Bojan Bogdanovic, and OG Anunoby.

If Grant continues to play as he has so far, this contract will look in the end as very fair, with maybe a $2 million surcharge for enduring Michigan winters.

Outside of his experience on a winning team and untapped potential, there’s another reason why Pistons fans shouldn’t worry about Grant or his contract: He’ll fit in any direction this franchise wants to go.

On offense, Grant doesn’t demand the ball or need to have the ball in his hands to be effective. He is most effective at scoring when he makes quick drives, smart cuts, and shoots 3’s.

The majority of his field-goal attempts come within highly coveted, high-efficiency areas.

Pistons fans should have high expectations of Jerami Grant. light. Related Story

Last year with the Nuggets, 30% of his field-goal attempts were three feet or closer to the basket and another 39% were 3-pointers. Those types of shots will always be welcome in an NBA offense, especially when they’re the type of quick decisions Grant makes.

He’s not calling for tons of picks or isolations, he’s playing within the flow of the offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Grant is an ideal wing for the modern NBA. While he hasn’t earned a reputation as an elite ball-stopper, he is an incredibly versatile defender, who has already shown the ability to defend the league’s most difficult assignments. He did well in the West finals when he had to guard LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Jonathon Tjarks of The Ringer found this wonderful nugget that perfectly encapsulates what makes Grant a rare and unique defender.

"“The best way to see Grant’s value is to look at the players he defended in the playoffs. Per NBA Advanced Stats, Grant’s three most frequent assignments were Kawhi Leonard, Donovan Mitchell, and LeBron James. Anthony Davis was no. 5, and Paul George was no. 7. The list of players who can match up with combo guards like Mitchell, supersized wings like LeBron and Kawhi, and new-age big men like Davis is incredibly short.”"

The league has moved towards long, rangy players, like Grant, that can defend multiple positions and switch on pick and rolls, making him only that much more valuable to a team.

Right now, the Pistons don’t have a clear path toward contending. We know in this league and championship teams are built on superstars. Anthony Davis and LeBron James, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

The Pistons’ closest thing to superstars are Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, whose days of leading teams to contending are almost assuredly in the past.

Detroit is not one or two pieces away, they’re at the store trying to decide which puzzle to even buy.

That’s what makes Grant so, so valuable for this team.

He’s a piece, not the main one, but he’ll fit into any puzzle the Pistons decide to pursue. If they end up developing Killian Hayes or Sekou Doumbouya into stars or drafting Cade Cunnigham, Grant will still be able to slot into the starting line up, fill it up on one end, and defend his butt off on the other. Heck, Pistons GM  Troy Weaver could even end up moving Jerami Grant if need be for a nice haul – Grant would be welcome on most contenders.

Grant is just entering his prime, with plenty of room to grow in the play-making and ball-handling department. Who’s to say he can’t grow into a star? I mean, that’s what he came to Detroit to do, after all.

Either way, whether Grant becomes a star or remains a super-role player capable of playing alongside developing Pistons players, he has been one of the fun, bright spots on this Pistons team.

Next. Detroit Pistons: Josh Jackson's revival. dark

If the Pistons’ future is as bright as Grant’s, they might just be alright.