The Trail Blazers She is scheduled to open boot camp on September 27 in Santa Barbara, California. In preparation for camp, The Oregonian/OregonLive will take a look at the five biggest storyline events a team must play to have a chance to compete during the 2022-23 NBA season, second Chauncey Billups as coach.
today: Straw Grant He must outperform his play in Detroit.
The Blazers and their fans have been longing for an All-Star striker since LaMarcus Aldridge left for San Antonio after the 2014-15 season.
Straw Grant, which was acquired by trade this season from the Detroit Pistons, has yet to make up the All-Star Team. But the eight-year-old has become the most versatile and athletic striker on the Blazers since Aldridge.
However, for Grant to boost the Blazers’ chances of competing for the NBA title, he must go beyond his two seasons with the Pistons. The Blazers need him to regain the proficiency he played in Denver and Oklahoma City from 2018-20.
Otherwise, the 6-foot-8 Grant may not be up to his predecessor, Robert Covington.
Chances look strong for Grant to go from being a bad team hub to a complementing piece on a good team with even better talent, a situation reminiscent of his time with the Nuggets and Thunder.
The Pistons made Grant, 28, the focal point of attack in 2020 and responded with an average of 22.3 points per game. But he only shot 42.9% from the field, including 35% from a three-point range. Last season, he averaged 19.2 points on 42.6% shootouts, including 35.8% on triples. Those filming proportions aren’t shocking, but they certainly aren’t on par with some of his previous seasons.
For example, in Denver, during the 2019-20 season, Grant shot 47.8% from the field and 38.9% from a three-point range, while averaging 12.0 points per game. The previous season with the Thunder, Grant shot 49.7% from the field and 39.2% from behind the arc, while averaging 13.6 points per game.
One could imagine his shot numbers were stronger simply because he took fewer shots. But it cannot be ignored that he also played with his best teammates. In Denver, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray drew the most attention from the defenses. In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook and Paul George moderated the show.
With the Pistons, Grant played for two teams that won 43 games.
Digging deeper into Grant’s numbers, it’s clear that his rate of use has seen a huge jump in Detroit, rising from 17.7% (Denver) and 15% (Oklahoma City) to 25.3% and 27.8%. While taking more shots can result in lower shot ratios, the quality of your shots, or the lack thereof, can play a bigger role.
At Oklahoma City in 2018-2019, 78.6% of Grant’s two-point field goals came from assists. That season, Westbrook averaged 10.4 assists and George averaged 4.1. At Denver in 2019-20, 76.6% of Grant’s two-point field goals came from assists. Jokic led Denver with 7.0 assists per game, while Murray added 4.8.
Compare all of that to Grant’s days in Detroit, when 53.7% of his two-point field goals were tied to assists in 2020-21 and just 49.8% last season.
Grant clearly didn’t set up well in Detroit playing alongside the likes of rookie Cade Cunningham.
The Blazers should be able to replicate their ambient playmaking bounty with Nuggets and Thunder. He will start alongside three legitimate playmakers Damian Lillard, Inverni Simmons, and Yusef Nurkic.
All three of these threats are scoring threats, which will attract defensive coverage and likely leave quality scoring opportunities for Grant.
It will be up to him to take advantage. If he does, the Blazers will finally have a striker who can shoot from outside and finish the basket with great athletic strength and authority, a weak point of his predecessor, Robert Covington.
Furthermore, Grant’s rise in the NBA initially began with his playing in defense. He should work well as a weak defender alongside Norkic, and also provide assistance on the periphery with his agility and long arms. While Covington excelled at playing clever team defense, he often struggled as a defender on the ball.
Ultimately, Grant has the power to help the Blazers win. And he will not have excuses not to exceed them. He’ll have a big star to relieve the pressure and feed in Lillard, who pressured the team hard to get Grant. Pelops said he thinks Grant is a perfect fit for the schemes he wants to implement on both ends of the court. Also, the Blazers will be looking to install Grant in a long-term extension, so he should definitely feel wanted and loved.