Per Game Stats:
— 63 games
— 35.6 minutes per game
— 20.5 points per game
— 4.5 rebounds per game
— 2.4 assists per game
— 0.8 steals per game
— 0.8 blocks per game
— 47.5 percent from the field
— 40.1 percent from three-point range
— 81.3 percent from the free throw line
— 89th percentile (12th) among forwards drawing fouls on 15.7 percent of his shots.
— 88th percentile (21st) among forwards for non-corner three point shooting (41%)
— 84th percentile (17th) among forwards blocking 1.2 percent of opposition shots.
His arrival in Portland
Jerami Grant was the Portland Trail Blazers’ highpoint of the 2022 offseason. Snaring the long two-way forward from the Detroit Pistons for a distant Milwaukee Bucks first-rounder was a serious ray of sunshine for a fanbase reeling from a losing 2021-22 season.
While Grant has never made an All Star team, he was chosen to represent and win a gold medal with the USA at the 2021 Olympics. And it was at the Tokyo games, that Grant and Damian Lillard built a friendship, sewing the seeds of their eventual teammate-ship.
His impact this season
Before Grant, the Blazers hadn’t paid a power forward with as much talent since LaMarcus Aldridge. Apologies to all those Carmelo Anthony fans, but no. Before the arrival of Matisse Thybulle at the NBA trade deadline, Grant also served as the Blazers main point of attack defender, night-after-night taking on the opposing team’s best player. On the offensive end he was responsible for 20 points a night, helped along by an impressive career-high 40 percent from three.
Grant’s three point shooting legitimately kept the Blazers in games early in the season, particularly when the likes of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons sat. A fascinating trope was the Grant no-dip three pointer, allowing the 6-9 forward to catch and release long-range shots quickly and efficiently.
Grant averaged 5.7 of his 14.5 field goal attempts from beyond the arc. He registered a 121.8 points per 100 shots, considered the 70th percentile or 22 for forwards and a 55.5 percent effective field goal percentage, good enough for the 61st percentile or 39th among forwards. That’s pretty considered for a guy still managing a 21.6 percent usage and 1.8 turnovers a game.
One of the clear 2022-23 Grant highlights was a moment during an impressive win over a full strength New Orleans Pelicans in November.
That night, while Damian Lillard sat, Grant (27 points) and Anfernee Simons (23 points) stole the show with the piece de resistance featuring a Grant crossover bamboozling Zion Williamson before finishing strong at the rim.
Grant’s defensive prowess speaks for itself. Able to guard pretty much any position on the court, he uses extraordinary athleticism, a 7-2 wingspan and innate basketball instincts.
As noted above, Grant was considered 17th among all forwards (good enough for the 84th percentile), blocking 1.2 percent of opposition shots, averaging 0.8 shots a game.
The 29-year-old’s defensive ability can also be highlighted by his ability avoid foul trouble. This season, he committed fouls on 2.5 percent on opposition plays, considered the 90th percentile or 21st among forwards. Not bad for a guy regularly taking on tough defensive assignments.
He played 94 percent of his time at power forward, four percent at small forward and two percent at center. As I said earlier, Grant can play all positions if needed, but he was optimized at the four, getting slower power forwards defenders.
Grant didn’t make an All Star team this year’s but it wasn’t out of the realms of possibility with NBA analyst and former coach Stan Van Gundy, naming the Blazer as a prospective Western Conference honoree twice earlier in the season.
Grant is now an unrestricted free agent after turning down a reported four-year. $112 million extension earlier this calendar year. Despite this, multiple NBA pundits expect Grant to return to Portland early in free agency on a deal slightly higher than the above extension. He also seemed open to returning at last week’s exit interview ... definitely.
“I definitely like it here, looking forward to the talks and trying to figure something out, I definitely feel comfortable here. We’ll definitely see when it comes to that.”
“I definitely want to win. Joe (Cronin) and them are capable of making something happen putting us in a position to not only be in the playoffs but make some noise. I think it’s something we talk about with my agents and talk about with Joe and Chauncey and everybody.”
“It’s a family setting, just being here for this year I’ve been able to become close friends with a lot of people on the team, a lot of the staff. A lot of people here and I think for me that’s a huge part of where you want to work, who you want to be around all year or for the next five years or or whatever it might be.”
“Security is always cool.”
A returned Grant will ensure talent and experience in the frontcourt as general manager Joe Cronin hunts for veterans to help Damian Lillard get closer to championship glory.
As many have already said, before arriving Portland, Grant experienced roles as both the leading man (in Detroit) and an upper echelon role player (with the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder). In Portland, the in-prime forward has found a happy medium, this year playing the 2A role and, if all goes to plan this offseason, a genuine No. 3 option next season.
If Lillard and Grant are your two building blocks, the Blazers have one backcourt and one frontcourt name to build the rest of the roster around.
There’s an important caveat here though. If Grant is the only “big” move executed by the Blazers this offseason, this team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Grant will hopefully by the easiest task Cronin needs to carry out with a big trade needed to ensure the Blazers can even come close to meeting Lillard’s expectations.