Jerami Grant should have even bigger season thanks to Detroit Pistons' reshuffling

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Jerami Grant signed with the Detroit Pistons as a free agent prior to last season in large part due to an expanded offensive role.

For the most part, Grant showed he could handle the burden. Grant averaged 22.3 points, exceeding his previous career high of 13.6 set two years earlier with Oklahoma City, and a career-best 2.8 assists.

Grant should be more dangerous this season with a key element added to the equation — stability.

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Jerami Grant (9) of the Detroit Pistons tries to split the defense of Aaron Henry (50) and Charles Bassey (23) of the Philadelphia 76ers during a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 15, 2021 in Detroit.
Jerami Grant (9) of the Detroit Pistons tries to split the defense of Aaron Henry (50) and Charles Bassey (23) of the Philadelphia 76ers during a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 15, 2021 in Detroit.

The Pistons shuttled through a variety of players last season, especially at point guard. This season, Grant will have a full year to build chemistry with top pick Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Cory Joseph and Saben Lee. He’ll also have a center capable of stretching the floor in free agent acquisition Kelly Olynyk.

“It should open the floor for him,” coach Dwane Casey said Sunday. “(Opponents) have got the spacing issues that they’ve got to respect Kelly’s 3-point shooting. The alleys are going to be open, so there’s driving opportunities to get to the rim, get to the paint, and make a play. That’s where those guys are going to help and any time you have multiple ball-handlers, that’s a huge plus.”

With the green light to shoot, Grant’s percentages dropped off. He shot 42.9% overall and 35% on 3-point attempts in 2020-21, compared to 47.8% overall and 38.9% on 3s in his final season at Denver.

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Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) is defended by San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White (4) during the second half of a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) is defended by San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White (4) during the second half of a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

With Olynyk and Isaiah Stewart as his frontcourt partners, Grant should have more room to roam down low as well. Last season’s starting center, Mason Plumlee, was not an outside threat and that tended to clog the lane.

Grant should have more success operating along the baseline.

“If (Grant) is posting up, it really helps to space the floor,” Casey said. “You have shooters all around, you have cutters all around. Offensively, it should help him all the way around.”

Grant didn’t find his 3-point shot in the preseason but he still averaged 19.6 points. In the preseason finale against Philadelphia on Friday, he posted 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Casey wants to see more rebounding totals like that from his premier scorer.

“Jerami should have five or six rebounds a game or more,” he said. “We’ve got to have him rebound at a higher clip and that’s something that’s going to help all of us.”

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Hayes, Bey return to practice; Cunningham still out

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) shakes hands with teammates at a timeout against San Antonio Spurs during the first half of a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.
Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) shakes hands with teammates at a timeout against San Antonio Spurs during the first half of a preseason game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

The Pistons are getting healthier heading toward their season opener against Chicago on Wednesday.

Out of concussion protocol, Hayes practiced in full Sunday. Forward Saddiq Bey, who missed the preseason finale with an ankle sprain, participated in parts of the practice.

Cunningham again sat out due to the ankle sprain he suffered early in camp.

However, Casey hasn’t ruled out him out for opening night.

“We’re going to hold out hope,” Casey said. “He’s on course. One thing we’re not going to do, if he’s not 100 percent, we’re not going to rush him back out there where he could get reinjured and be off more time. We’ll see where everyone is by Wednesday and make that proclamation.”

Lyles seizes rotation spot

The Pistons took a flyer on free agent Trey Lyles to be the primary backup behind Grant. Lyles, 25, was signed to a two-year, $5.1 million contract that includes a team option next summer.

Lyles’ strengths, according to Casey, are his shooting and basketball IQ. Lyles averaged seven points, 4.8 points and 1.5 assists in 18.3 minutes per game during four preseason outings.

“He’s done everything to earn it, to keep it,” Casey said of Lyles’ second-unit role. “I feel very comfortable when he’s in the game.”

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Lyles started 53 of 63 games with San Antonio two seasons ago, but only saw action in 23 games last season.

“We’ve had guys like that here before,” Casey said. “I’m always about giving guys opportunities, second chances and you’ll probably get the better version.”

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons' Jerami Grant should have even bigger season