Last week, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported that the Detroit Pistons are open to trading forward Jerami Grant. Charania also detailed that “dozens” of teams are interested in acquiring the 6’8” wing.
The Pistons currently have the worst record in the NBA. And with next summer’s draft class looking to be even better than the class of 2021, it should come as no surprise to see Detroit looking to execute a deal for future assets.
With whispers that the Minnesota Timberwolves are interested in trading for a starting-caliber big at the upcoming trade deadline, it makes sense to take a look at trading for Grant. Yes, Grant isn’t exactly “big” – he weighs only 210 pounds. At least not for a traditional NBA four. But in today’s game, a player’s size doesn’t necessarily define their position.
The Wolves offense has been somewhat underwhelming up to this point of the season. And acquiring Grant and his multifaceted scoring abilities may be what this team needs. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the forward was a rumored target of the Timberwolves when he was a restricted free agent two offseasons ago.
Minnesota is currently at .500, thanks mainly to their vastly-improved defense. But along with their newly-found defensive efforts, the team’s offense has looked far from the scoring machine most fans expected coming into this season. I never thought a team with Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell would need assistance in the scoring department. But I also never thought that a team led by said trio would have the league’s eighth-best defense either.
The Wolves could look into trading for a more traditional center. One who could aid the team’s glaring defensive rebounding issue. One who could help Towns in protecting the cup. On the other hand, just because they can trade for a traditional center doesn’t necessarily mean they should. Look, we’ve all imagined Towns playing alongside another 7-footer who can provide both floor-spacing and rim protection. (I may or may not have a picture of Myles Turner photoshopped into a Wolves uniform in my camera roll).
But this Wolves team has already proven countless times this year that their defense is adequate, and their offense is not. And it might just be time for Minnesota’s front office to acquire a player who can provide that additional scoring.
Grant’s skill set is undeniable. He’s a player who can knock down shots from all three levels on the floor. And the numbers prove it, as he’s one of only 30 players currently averaging above 20 points per contest. But Grant’s far from your average scoring wing. In his days before becoming the first scoring option for a poor Pistons team, Grant was one of the league’s most sought-after defenders. With a 7’3” wingspan, it’s understandable why the Denver Nuggets tasked Grant with defending both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
Grant’s best seasons in the league haven’t even been the years in which he’s averaged upwards of 20 points. No, Grant’s best play of his career was from when he was the third or fourth option on offense. Making him less of a priority on offense allowed him to focus on being one of his team’s better defenders. In return, he let the offense come to him rather than chuck up 15 or more field goal attempts a night.
Take a look at his numbers over his last four seasons:
But what could Sachin Gupta and his staff possibly offer to Detroit to ensure that Grant lands in the hands of the Wolves?
With lesser roles than they’ve seen in recent years, both Malik Beasley and Taurean Prince have yet to find their groove 30 games in. Beasley and Prince could be just what they’re looking for for a team like the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons hold the worst shooting percentage for shots taken from deep. Both Beasley and Prince have shown throughout their careers at some point or another that they are capable of knocking down open shots. Prince is an unrestricted free agent next summer. Pair that with Beasley’s team-friendly deal; a side of $2 million scraped off Detroit’s books; all on a bed of three unprotected picks, and I’m not sure of a better trade offer barring any overpays.
Yes, the NBA trade deadline is still over three months away (March 25). But rumor has it that the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers have already begun knocking on Detroit’s door. Therefore, it may be in Minnesota’s favor to try and make a move now before one of their conference rivals can complete a deal.
Adding Grant to this team would allow the Wolves to play more of a five-out offense, assuming Jarred Vanderbilt comes off the bench. The spacing available would be immaculate, with five players on the court who can all hit threes at a near-league average percentage. Keeping the opposing defense honest, meaning having their centers actually guard Minnesota’s, would create a ton of room for critical players such as Edwards to operate.
Again, this Minnesota defense has been a joy to watch. It’s the offense that, at times, makes you cringe at your TV. And with a player of Grant’s caliber who has shown in the past that he can play an exceptional third-fiddle, I see no reason not to glance over in Detroit’s direction. Plus, why not try to snatch away THE Josh Jackson to see just how many former top-five picks this team can hold?