Back in November, when the Detroit Pistons signed Jerami Grant to a three year, $60 million contract, there was surprise on both sides of the deal.
For the Pistons, doling out $60 million felt like a hefty ransom for a player like Grant, who seemed destined for something in the $12-to-$14 million per season range. For Grant, he went from being a solid contributor on a contending team in the Denver Nuggets to a member of the rebuilding Pistons with Blake Griffin already manning Grant’s natural power forward position.
But, just over a month into the season, it looks as if both Grant and Pistons general manager (and former Syracuse assistant coach) Troy Weaver knew just what they were doing, as Grant has snatched hold of the title of “Best SU Alum in the NBA.”
In 16 games this season (his seventh in the NBA), the former second round pick has averaged 24.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game (all career highs), while shooting 38 percent from behind the 3-point line.
To truly understand how his game has grown, we must first look at what those numbers are like, compared to his previous highs. In 2018-19 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Grant scored a career-high 13.6 points per game. That same season, he averaged a career-best 5.2 rebounds. Meanwhile, in just his second season, Grant dished out 1.8 assists as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, the highest assist average of his career.
Granted, it is only one month and one month does not a season make. Now, until this season, Carmelo Anthony has carried the torch as best former Orange in the NBA ever since he entered the league in the 2003-04 season. But to find a month where Anthony averaged as many points as Grant has so far this season, we would have to enter our time machine and teleport back to February 2017.
Forget for a moment about Anthony, who has not garnered an All-Star appearance in any of the last three years. How do Grant’s stats line up against the current batch of All-Stars?
Grant is tied for 14th in the league in scoring, alongside names like James Harden (8-time All-Star) and Donovan Mitchell (one All-Star appearance in three seasons). Here are some names of guys that are scoring less than Grant so far this season: LeBron James, Paul George, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Devin Booker and Anthony Davis, just to name a few.
Grant’s rebounding numbers put him just outside the Top 50 and his 1.2 block per game (while not a career high) place him in the Top 25 in the league in that category.
Diving into some more advanced stats, Grant’s Win Share value is 1.6, tied with the likes of Mitchell, Kyrie Irving and Zach LaVine. His Value Above Replacement ranking of 20th ties him with Bradley Beal, Domantas Sabonis and Trae Young. All the comparisons point to players who have already been All-Stars, probably will be this year or will, at least, be in the conversation.
From second-round pick to rotational player to starter on a playoff team to…possible All-Star? All-Star or not, Jerami Grant’s rise to NBA relevance has been a sensational story, one of self-confidence and the will to improve year over year. We will not know for another month or so whether or not Grant is an All-Star this season. But, with no reservations, it seems Grant has been anointed the best current NBA player to hail from Syracuse University.