Jerami Grant makes big push in NBA Most Improved Player odds
You can be forgiven if you haven’t been watching the Pistons this season. Detroit is 3-9 and has tumbled to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings after losing five of its last six games.
Dwane Casey’s club ranks in the bottom third of the league in offensive and defensive rating, and has been floundering since losing promising point guard Killian Hayes to a torn labrum in his right hip after just his seventh game.
There are dozens of reasons why the Pistons have been unwatchable, but there’s also one very good reason why they deserve be appointment viewing: Jerami Grant.
The 26-year-old forward is flourishing in his first year in Motown, where he’s posting career-highs in points (24.8), rebounds (6.3), assists (2.2), steals (1.1), three-point attempts (7.0) and minutes per game (36.6).
His play alone hasn’t transformed Detroit into a legitimate contender, but it has had a profound impact on his Most Improved Player Award campaign, as his odds have jumped from +4000 on Jan. 6 to just +300 on Jan. 18.
NBA Most Improved Player 2020/2021
Tue, June 1 2021, 10:00 AM
Porter Jr., Michael
Let’s examine what happened during that span to make Grant such an intriguing bet.
Michael Porter Jr. missed significant time due to COVID-19 protocols
Few players got off to a faster start this season than Michael Porter Jr., who averaged 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in his first four outings. Unfortunately his momentum came to a grinding halt on Dec. 31 when he was removed from the team for COVID-19 tracing protocols. His isolation window was then extended for an additional 10-14 days after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
There’s still plenty of time for MPJ to regain his form and finish the season strong, but he has his work cut out for him after seeing his Most Improved Player Award odds drop from +1000 to +2000 over the past three weeks.
Markelle Fultz’s season came to a brutal end
One of Grant’s other chief challengers dropped out of the race on Jan. 6 when Magic point guard Markelle Fultz tore his left ACL in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The former No. 1 draft pick was averaging 12.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game, but has fallen from the top 10 in Most Improved Player odds after Orlando confirmed he will miss the remainder of the season.
Grant found his groove
After starting off slowly with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting in his Pistons debut, Grant has scored 22 points or more in each of his last 11 games. That includes a pair of 31-point performances in back-to-back outings against the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.
Unlike the league’s other elite scorers, the Syracuse alum isn’t getting crowded in his favorite spots on the court. DetroitBadBoys.com was the first to point out that nearly 19% of Grant’s shot attempts have come with a defender six or more feet away, and so far he’s been hitting 45% of them. Compare that to other high volume chuckers like Kevin Durant, who has taken only 3.7% of his shots with defenders six feet away, or Bradley Beal, who’s checking in at 10.6%. Defenders will eventually clue in to Grant’s offensive prowess, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Grant is catching up
Grant is still second to Houston’s Christian Wood in Most Improved Player Award odds, but it’s impossible to ignore his upward trajectory. Consider sprinkling a little money on him now before oddsmakers catch on to his ascent.