As expected, the Detroit Pistons have been bad. The team owns the worst record in the Eastern Conference (19-47) and has never been a threat for any postseason race this season.
But it hasn’t been all that bad. Rookies Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart have shown flashes of their potential as they’ve continued to develop during their first season. They typically play hard, which is the least you can ask for a bad team. And then there’s the emergence of Jerami Grant, who has developed into a versatile scorer.
After being a secondary scoring option for the first eight years of his career, Grant has thrived with more offensive responsibility in Detroit, averaging 22.5 points, 4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Oddsmakers have taken notice of his emergence, with DraftKings placing him with the second-best sports betting odds to win the Most Improved Player award this year at +500.
Still, Grant is a bit of a longshot to take the award. New York’s Julius Randle is the overwhelming favorite at -2000.
Grant Doing More For First Time in Career
Grant spent the first seven years of his career primarily as a 3-and-D perimeter wing. He was regularly tasked with defending the other team’s top offensive threat outside and had a limited offensive game where he typically had to be set up by his teammates.
But Grant has become one of the key ballhandlers on a Detroit team that’s filled with young wing players. Grant’s previous high usage rate percentage was 18%, but that has jumped up to 28.4% in Detroit this season.
A year ago in Denver, Grant was assisted on more than 84% of his made shots. This season, that percentage is at 65% as he’s been able to create more opportunities for himself off the dribble. He’s also on pace to shoot 100 more 3s than last season while converting at a near 36% rate.
Despite Grant’s scoring increases and becoming a legitimate perimeter scorer in the league, the award appears to be locked up by Randle. The Knicks are good, which is strange to say, but is indisputable with the team holding the No. 4 seed with a 37-28 record. Much of the Knicks’ turnaround can be attributed to Randle’s increased productivity.
Randle is averaging career-highs in points (24.2) and rebounds (10.3) while also taking and making more 3s at the most efficient rate in his career. Randle is averaging 2.3 3-pointers made on 5.4 attempts for a 43% average. He is just one of three players in the league to average 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at least 40% from 3.