The Trail Blazers are scheduled to open coaching camp Sept. 27 in Santa Barbara, Calif. In the buildup to camp, The Oregonian/OregonAre living will check out the 5 largest storylines that must play out for the crew to have a possibility of contending throughout the 2022-23 NBA season, Chauncey Billups’ 2nd as trainer.
Previous posts: 1- Damian Lillard must play like an MVP | 2- (*3*)Jusuf Nurkic must reside up to his $70 million contract.
Today: Jerami Grant must eclipse his play in Detroit.
The Blazers, and their fanatics, had been yearning for an All-Star caliber ahead since LaMarcus Aldridge departed for San Antonio following the 2014-15 season.
Jerami Grant, got by way of business this offseason from the Detroit Pistons, has but to make an All-Star crew. But the 8-yr veteran turns into the maximum athletic and flexible ahead the Blazers have had since Aldridge.
Yet, for Grant to spice up the Blazers’ probabilities of contending for an NBA name, he must exceed his play throughout two seasons with the Pistons. The Blazers want him to regain the potency he performed with in Denver and Oklahoma City from 2018-20.
Otherwise, the 6-foot-8 Grant is probably not a lot of an improve over his predecessor, Robert Covington.
Chances seem sturdy that Grant will ship as he transitions from being the centerpiece of a foul crew to a complementary piece on a excellent crew with higher skill, a scenario paying homage to his time with the Nuggets and Thunder.
The Pistons made Grant, 28, the point of interest in their offense in 2020 and he replied by way of averaging 22.3 issues in keeping with sport. But however he shot simply 42.9% from the box, together with 35% from 3-level vary. Last season, he averaged 19.2 issues on 42.6% taking pictures, together with 35.8% on threes. Those taking pictures percentages aren’t terrible, however they’re in no way on par with a few of his earlier seasons.
For instance, in Denver, throughout the 2019-20 season, Grant shot 47.8% from the box and 38.9% from 3-level vary, whilst averaging 12.0 issues in keeping with sport. The earlier season with the Thunder, Grant shot 49.7% from the box and 39.2% from in the back of the arc, whilst averaging 13.6 issues in keeping with sport.
One may theorize that his taking pictures numbers have been more potent just because he took fewer pictures. But it can’t be disregarded that he additionally performed with higher teammates. In Denver, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray drew maximum of the consideration from defenses. In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook and Paul George ran the display.
With the Pistons, Grant performed for two groups that received a mixed 43 video games.
Digging deeper into Grant’s numbers, his utilization charge obviously took an enormous soar in Detroit, expanding from 17.7% (Denver) and 15% (Oklahoma City) to to 25.3% and 27.8%. While taking extra pictures can lead to decrease taking pictures percentages, the high quality of pictures, or lack thereof, can play a good greater position.
In Oklahoma City in 2018-19, 78.6% of Grant’s two-level box objectives got here off of assists. That season, Westbrook averaged 10.4 assists and George averaged 4.1. In Denver in 2019-20, 76.6% of Grant’s two-level box objectives got here off of assists. Jokic led Denver with 7.0 assists in keeping with sport, whilst Murray added 4.8.
Compare all of that to Grant’s days in Detroit, when 53.7% of his two-level box objectives have been hooked up to assists in 2020-21 and simply 49.8% final season.
Clearly, Grant wasn’t being arrange neatly in Detroit whilst enjoying along the likes of rookie Cade Cunningham.
The Blazers must be in a position to reflect the surrounding playmaking Grant loved with the Nuggets and Thunder. He will get started along 3 respectable playmakers in Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic.
All 3 are threats to rating, which can draw defensive protection and probably go away high quality scoring alternatives for Grant.
It might be up to him to capitalize. Should he achieve this, the Blazers will in the end have a ahead who can each shoot from the outdoor and end at the basket with nice athleticism and authority, a weak spot of his predecessor, Robert Covington.
Furthermore, Grant’s ascension in the NBA first of all started with his play on protection. He must paintings neatly as a weakside defender along Nurkic, and likewise supply assist on the perimeter with his agility and lengthy palms. While Covington excelled in enjoying clever crew protection, he continuously struggled as an on-ball defender.
In the finish, Grant has the doable to assist the Blazers win. And he’ll have 0 excuses now not to exceed. He could have a famous person to alleviate power and feed off of in Lillard, who lobbied arduous for the crew to gain Grant. Billups has stated he believes Grant is a smart are compatible for the schemes he needs to enforce at each ends of the court docket. Also, the Blazers will glance to lock Grant into an extended-time period extension, so he must indisputably really feel sought after and beloved.
— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook).
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