It’s obvious to Portland Trail Blazers fans that forward Jerami Grant has had a huge and immediate impact on the team, fitting in seamlessly on both ends of the floor.
There is nothing under-the-radar about it. But the Grant trade was not considered by all to be a slam dunk right away.
Prior to Grant’s hot and seemingly sustainable start, there were appropriate reservations. However, it appears that just a handful of games into the regular season national pundits are ready to declare the acquisition an “under-the-radar” success.
Yes, that’s probably an understatement at this juncture, but in the broader scope of the league, an ostensibly quiet win is still a big one. ESPN’s Bobby Marks takes a by-the-numbers approach to outline why:
The forward is averaging 19.7 points and shooting 48.2% on 3-pointers, which ranks in the top-five among players with 50-plus attempts. Per Second Spectrum tracking, 77 of his 83 3-point attempts have been catch-and-shoot, and Grant ranks 4th in 3-point field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot attempts (min. 60 3-pt FGA).
Grant has also impacted Portland’s defense, which ranked in the bottom five in the league each of the past three seasons. This season, the Blazers rank seventh.
Without going into full rebuild mode after trading CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, and Larry Nance Jr., the Trail Blazers added a game-changer. Grant is perhaps the biggest individual reason why the team is off to its best start since the 2018-19 season.
The most surprising aspect of Grant’s game has been his massive leap in offensive efficiency now that he is no longer expected to be his team’s No. 1 option. As Marks noted, Grant is shooting 48.2 percent from three, up from 35.8 percent in Detroit, as well as 48 percent overall, up from 42.6 percent.
Defensively, Portland knew what it was getting, and their pick-and-roll defense has rarely been better.
So, with the one of the best records in the Western Conference it’s fair to say that this team that could have simply started over has successfully revamped its outlook with a fresh face. Well, a fresh face or two, to credit rookie Shaedon Sharpe, as Marks does as well.
Sharpe is on pace to shoot the highest percentage from 3 for a rookie since Anthony Morrow in 2008-09. He is shooting 47.4% from 3 despite not playing college basketball last season. That number increases to 62% on catch-and-shoot 3s.
The Blazers’ moves are moving them in the right direction.