It looks like the closer we get to the trade deadline, the more we’ll be hearing Jerami Grant’s name.
On Tuesday, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that Grant is “being viewed by league personnel as the best player with the highest likelihood of being dealt” over the next couple of weeks. Not only that, but one team strategist told Fischer that Grant is the “grand prize” of this season’s trade deadline.
Grant has had quite the journey to this point of his career. Selected with the No. 39 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, he got his start coming off the bench in the early stages of “The Process” 76ers. He’s bounced around since then, spending time in Oklahoma City and Denver before moving to Detroit in search of a bigger role.
Now, Grant might be the league’s hottest trade candidate.
What makes Grant such an intriguing player? Let’s take a closer look.
Why Jerami Grant could be the “grand prize” of the 2022 NBA trade deadline
Grant was one of the league’s breakout players last season.
Averaging career-highs of 22.3 points and 2.8 assists to go along with 4.6 rebounds, Grant finished behind only Knicks forward Julius Randle in Most Improved Player voting. His efficiency took a hit compared to years prior but his usage rate skyrocketed from 18.0 percent in 2019-20 to 28.5 percent in 2020-21, which is the difference between a specialist like Duncan Robinson and a star like James Harden.
The intrigue with Grant is that he’s now shown he can do a little bit of everything as a scorer. He’s connected on only 34.4 percent of his 3-point attempts since joining the Pistons, but he was a 39.1 percent 3-point shooter on decent volume (3.6 attempts per game) in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Playing the power forward position, Grant can provide valuable shooting as a stretch four.
Grant was mostly a spot-up shooter with the Thunder and Nuggets. The Pistons have experimented with him a little more as a shooter, to the point where they’ll run the occasional pindown for him to free him up from midrange.
Grant thrived as a cutter in both Oklahoma City and Denver. Having played next to the likes of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, he knows how to move off-ball, and he has the athleticism to finish strong at the rim.
You best believe title-contenders will be drawn to Grant’s experience and comfort playing next to stars.
That same know-how and athleticism make Grant a threat in transition.
The real growth Grant has shown in Detroit is as a self-creator. He still has his limitations — he’s probably still best suited to be a third or fourth option on offense — but he’s seen his isolation and pick-and-roll frequency spike as a member of the Pistons to better results than anyone could’ve expected.
To put it simply, Grant wasn’t doing much of this…
…before becoming a Piston.
Even if a team trades for Grant in the hopes of him filling a more complementary role on offense, it certainly doesn’t hurt having another player who can create a decent shot for themselves in times of need.
Teams will be drawn to Grant’s defensive ability as well. He’s not some big-time shot blocker, and he’s averaging only 0.6 steals per game in his career, but he has the size and length to defend multiple positions at a high level. Take a peek at the matchup data from last season and you’ll see that Grant spent time guarding a variety of different players, from Khris Middleton and Andrew Wiggins to Harden, LeBron James and Devin Booker.
Plenty of teams could use Grant’s versatility on defense.
How many teams are in the mix for Jerami Grant?
Quite a few.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Jazz, Wizards, Celtics, Pacers, Timberwolves and Kings have interest in Grant. (That’s nearly a third of the league if you’re keeping count.) The Bulls are another possibility for him if they’re looking to go all-in, but it doesn’t appear as though they’re quite there — not yet, anyway.
“For Chicago to move [Patrick] Williams, [Arturas] Karnisovas would need absolute confidence Grant is the final ingredient for a championship run,” writes Fischer. “The front office has already mortgaged the majority of its future draft capital, and sending out Williams, Derrick Jones Jr. and the Blazers’ protected 2022 first-rounder would lock the Bulls into an inflexible future. At this juncture, Chicago appears uncomfortable with that.”
What is Jerami Grant’s contract?
Grant is on the books for $20.0 million this season, so it won’t be that difficult for most teams to match his salary in a deal, but he does only have one more year remaining on his current contract, setting him up to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2022-23 season. He’s reportedly looking for an extension “in the ballpark of four years, $112 million” this offseason. Keeping him long-term won’t be cheap.
One other thing teams will have to keep in mind is that Grant has been sidelined since Dec. 17 with a thumb injury. His timetable to return is still unclear, but interested teams will be happy to see that he’s ramping up his rehab and could be back soon.