Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant has made a huge splash with his new team in the opening month of the 2022-23 NBA season. Averaging 20.1 points while shooting 47% from distance on a squad with a 10-5 record will do that for you.
Grant is receiving national recognition for his contributions. Yesterday Shams Charania posted a video interview with Portland’s starting power forward for Stadium, a seven-minute tour through Grant’s impressions of the Blazers, his recent tenure with the Detroit Pistons, and more.
Here’s the video, via Twitter:
Portland’s Jerami Grant sits down with @Stadium: “I didn’t know how to feel about (Blazers) for the first night, but once I settled down, I realized this is a better situation for me.” Also: Damian Lillard’s recruitment, lessons as No. 1 option in Detroit, his Denver exit, more. pic.twitter.com/6yYqyTwWHv— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 17, 2022
For those who can’t watch, here’s a transcript:
Shams Charania: How was that process for you, just being recruited by a star player like Dame and then ending up in Portland?
Jerami Grant: It’s always great to know that other great players want to play with you. Obviously, my first year in Detroit I was extremely excited. I got a chance to play and blossom and grow and do something that I never had a chance to be able to do before – being a vocal guy, the main guy. It kind of took a turn, differently, in Detroit. When I talked to Dame in Vegas, you know, we were talking about it, being the main guy and stuff like that and I just told him that I got a lot more respect for, you know, for people who are the No. 1 option because it’s a lot more difficult than just putting up the numbers. That’s kind of how we started.
Charania: So, you end up in Portland. I know there were some reservations because it kind of came out of nowhere. What were your feelings when you first got moved?
Grant: You have a feeling where you want to be somewhere where you winning and this and that, but when it happens, if you not ready for it, the emotions are always up in the air. I didn’t know how to feel about it for the first night or day-and-a-half or something like that, but once I settled down and my emotions kind of moved out the way, I realized it’s a better situation for me to be able to blossom still in my role, being one of the main guys, but also being able to win in that situation. I think it’s a great situation for me.
Charania: Now you’re kind of in a hybrid situation where you’re able to learn from Detroit, learn from Denver, learn from all your experiences to put this together in Portland.
Grant: I think it was a great decision on my part for my career, to be able to grow and experience being in that position, knowing where I’m at and knowing where I could be. I feel like I’ve played so many different roles, like you said throughout my career whether it’s being a guy that might not play every game to being the main guy in Detroit. You know, now, here, being one of the main guys, it’s definitely a lot better here. Some games I still get double-teamed but just knowing that I got these guys around me, I know they’re a lot more hesitant to throw a double-team at me. And if they do, then they’re obviously paying for it, leaving Dame, Ant, or whoever else on the team open.
Charania: When you look at that team in Denver, now, what do you make of that exit that you had with Denver?
Grant: Originally, it was if Denver gets to this specific number that we talked about, I’ll sign back. They didn’t get to that number and, at the same time, my mind definitely wanted to go to a situation where I could see how good I am. Once Denver didn’t get to the number that we talked about, I explored other things. And Detroit offered me not only more money but also a bigger role. It was an easy decision for me just because Denver didn’t get to the point where we negotiated or we talked about. So, yeah, that was the biggest thing for me, I would say.
Charania: How big are those goals for you, trying to be on the All-Defensive team and trying to continue to improve your efficiency into this season?
Grant: I definitely think I’m one of the best defenders in the league, just in terms of who I’m able to guard and what I’m able to do when I’m guarding the player that I’m guarding. So, that’s definitely a goal for me. I think that’s where I want to start and just keep moving forward from there.
Charania: I know, in Portland, that fanbase can be rabid, especially if they have a team that they want to root for that plays hard. What’s been your early experience like in Portland and can you see why Dame wants to win so bad in Portland?
Grant: Definitely. They’ve been embracing me since I got traded, before they even really seen what I can do – they watch highlights and stuff like that – but they been cheering me on and rooting for me since I got traded. And, obviously, I’m playing well right now, so they’re backing me, but I think they would back me regardless. I think this fanbase is definitely different from any fanbase that I’ve played with so far. I really like this group of guys, I like this team, I like this organization, Chauncey. So, we’ll see where it goes, but I definitely like the situation that I’m in and we’ll see how it goes from there.
Charania: You’ve played with a lot of great players in your career. Talk about Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and now you got Dame Lillard on this team. What did you learn out of that that you saw your peers have to deal with and then you got to be put in that position?
Grant: It’s a lot harder than what you would think. It’s not as simple as, you know, you just going out and dropping 20 every night. It’s a leadership role you take with being the main guy. Not only can you worry about yourself but you have to worry about other people, where they getting their shots at, controlling the game and being an overall leader. I think that’s something that people don’t really look at when they think about a No. 1 option.
Charania: What lessons do you think that you’ve gotten that you would tell that younger self that got drafted to Philly all the way back?
Grant: If I was writing a letter to my younger self, I’d tell him that I’m proud of him. I would say keep working hard, stay steady. I think, for me, it’s just always been keeping my head down and knowing that the work will pay off. Continue to work. I’ve been working hard for a long period of time, I’d say, and it’s been working out. Small increments. My growth hasn’t been exponential through a year, like, from one year to the next. I think it’s been very gradual, and sometimes people overlook the slow and steady pace that I’ve been on, but I think it works for me, and I’m going to keep going from here.
Grant and the Blazers face the Utah Jazz tomorrow at 7:00 PM, Pacific.