Did the Portland Trail Blazers make the most underrated off-season move?

Jerami Grant (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Jerami Grant (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Portland Trail Blazers: Versatile defender

Standing 6’8″ tall and weighing a lean 210 lbs. Jerami Grant is long, quick, and athletic. He is also a great leaper who plays above the rim and has excellent timing. These attributes allow him to guard multiple positions, thus giving head coach Chauncey Billups additional versatility when inserting different players in and out of the lineup.

In an era where “position-less basketball” is becoming more common, versatility is an increasingly desirable attribute. Jerami Grant’s lateral quickness allows him to stay in front of tall shooting guards like Paul George while also being able to defend power forwards who like to face the basket, like Pascal Siakam.

Although he is slender, he is not prone to getting bullied in the paint by bigger opposing players. This is evidenced by the fact that he is averaging 1.0 blocks per game and 4.7 rebounds per contest. For a small forward who is not a rim protector, swatting away at least one shot per contest is a luxury that any defense will accept as an added bonus.

Grant may never be among the league leaders in categories like blocks or steals, but his defensive prowess goes beyond the stat sheet. He is the type of player who is always active on defense, especially verbally, calling out screens and barking out switches to his teammates.

This has translated into the Portland Trailblazers being one of the better defensive teams in the NBA this season, allowing just 108.9 points per contest, 7th best in the league. Last season, the team allowed 115.1 points per game, the 27th-worst overall ranking. Grant’s impact on the defensive intensity is making an undeniable difference for the team.