This season’s All-Star showcase is still up in the air – the league wants it, but the players clearly don’t. Either way, though, we’ll be getting an All-Star lineup for each conference, which should draw yet another round of debates. Now that we’re passed the quarter mark of the season, the discussions are starting to heat up.
One player’s fate that will be interesting to anticipate is Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant. The seven-year veteran and first-year Piston has simply catapulted his performance to an unexpected level. He’s quite possibly the season’s biggest surprise.
In 23 games, Grant is averaging career-bests 23.9 points (also a team-high), 5.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game, along a solid 38.9% shooting clip from beyond the arc. He’s doubling his scoring from 2019-20 (12 PPG), so all that pushed himself at the forefront of the Most Improved Player of the Year award – arguably the far and away leader at this point.
Grant has stepped up in place of the team’s marquee man, Blake Griffin, who’s about to turn 32 years old and now a shell of his former explosive self because of injuries.
Watch how Grant almost powered Detroit into a second win (and would-be season series sweep) against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers:
It’s great and all, but an All-Star nomination? The jury is still out. Though countless fans may cast votes for Grant, we can’t expect it to go anywhere – popularity-wise, he’s nowhere near the top-tier or mid-tier players. His best chance is winning over votes from the coaches as a reserve, but that too isn’t even close to being sure for now.
Earning that selection is much more than numbers, and Grant, as good as he’s been, isn’t really delivering a whole outside of that, particularly in getting victories for his team.
There have been many cases where a top scorer on a terrible team got in, but it’s not worse than Grant’s situation. The Pistons are only 5-18 on the season, dead-last in the entire league. They are also ranked 22nd or lower in various stat categories – points, offensive rating, points allowed, defensive rating, and net rating, among others.
Keep in mind that the Washington Wizards’ scoring machine, Bradley Beal, failed to make an All-Star team last year, and he had better stats. At the time of the selection, he was putting up almost 30 PPG while the Wizards were more than 10 games below .500 and had the worst defense in the league.
Does Grant have time to raise his All-Star stock?
He does. The voting for the All-Star reserves is still weeks away, so there’s plenty of room to maintain or improve his numbers and help boost the Pistons’ record. If he’s able to stay around 23 PPG and they climb up near the .500 mark, AT THE VERY LEAST, the coaches may put his name in the ballot.
It’s a longshot, but it will definitely be a great story. Grant has emerged from a nobody second-round pick, to bench warmer, to sixth man, to ‘3 and D’ role player, to a starter and top scorer.
Grant and the Pistons’ next game is this Wednesday, at 8:00 AM, Manila time. They will play host to the star-studded Brooklyn Nets.