Beard: Jerami Grant quickly emerges as go-to option for Pistons, DFS players
Detroit — There was a time when Jerami Grant’s projected fantasy points production was something of a mystery for the Pistons. In the regular-season opener, his salary on DraftKings was $4,700 and he finished with nine points, one rebound and three assists.
That was the end of the uncertainty.
In the weeks since the start of the season, Grant has been a go-to option not just for players in daily fantasy sports, averaging 41.9 fantasy points on DK this season. That’s almost double his production from last season with the Nuggets.
Grant’s career-best performance came Saturday, when he posted 57.75 DK points and an All-Star stat line: 24 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and two steals. He added three 3-pointers, showing his versatility on both ends of the court.
This season, Grant is averaging 24.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists and shooting a career-best 39.3% on 3-pointers. That’s efficient production in only 37 minutes per game, and he has done it with a 26.1% usage.
The word is out now on Grant, as his DK salary has ballooned to nearly $10,000 — which still seems to be too low for what he has set as his baseline for nightly production. He’s morphed into the Pistons’ No. 1 option on offense and when they need a bucket, they can count on getting the ball to Grant and just getting out of the way and letting him work.
Where Grant could become a bigger DFS asset is if he gets to the free-throw line a bit more. He has two games this season with 11 free-throw attempts and he’s averaging just under six per game.
What’s been interesting to watch in Grant’s ascension to the top of the Pistons’ salary chart is how Blake Griffin has retained his position as the second option. Griffin, returning from knee surgery last season, is posting 31.22 DK points this season and has missed three games because of injury management or being in the concussion protocol.
So far this season, Griffin hasn’t been as solid a play as normal and he’s hovered at $7,600 DK, it seems to be a daily gamble — literally. Although his scoring is down overall, Griffin has shown he can pile up some bonus points with 3-pointers, including eight against the Cavaliers on Dec. 26, but his highest number of makes beyond that is three in a game this season.
His rebounding numbers are up in the past couple of weeks, as are his assists, which seems to suggest that he can make up for some of the dropoff in scoring with the secondary categories. It’s something to watch, but as long as he’s playing 30-plus minutes, he can hit the numbers to make him a worthwhile look.
The Pistons’ rookies have been getting increasing minutes this season, most notably Saddiq Bey, who has three starts and is averaging 22 minutes. The numbers are a little surprising: 10 points and 4.1 rebounds and a scorching 43% on 3-pointers. Bey has a quick trigger and isn’t afraid to get his 3-point shot off if he has a sliver of daylight. That’s been his biggest asset, along with some underrated defense with his 6-foot-7 frame.
What’s most surprising is that Bey has closed out some games even when he’s not starting. Coach Dwane Casey has begun to lean on Bey more and for DFS purposes, Bey has been a good producer, with 18.1 fantasy points per game. Of note, he’s been a little better on the road, with 21.1 fantasy points, in a small four-game sample size.
If Bey is below $4,000 DK, he can easily reach that number because of his usage and his ability to score from outside. He had career highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds with a career-best six 3-pointers on Jan. 6 against the Bucks in 24 minutes. That’s 43 fantasy points when he’s been valued around $5,000 for much of the season.
One more Pistons player to watch is Isaiah Stewart, who has seen his production and playing time increase in the past couple of weeks. Stewart, the No. 16 pick in the draft, is a menace on the glass, especially on the offensive end. His salary has jumped to $4,500 DK although he’s averaging just 15 fantasy points.
Look for that number to spike as he gets more playing time. Against the Heat on Saturday, Stewart posted his first career double-double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds (seven offensive) in just 19 minutes. He’s starting to play ahead of Jahlil Okafor and if Stewart can figure out how to stay out of foul trouble, he’d likely increase his minutes even more.
As the Pistons are looking to get more minutes for their young players, which could mean jumps for Bey, Stewart, Saben Lee and when the rotation gets settled, there will be more clarity on the roles that Sekou Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk and Josh Jackson will have. It may take another few games to get a better indication, but for now, just watch those wings.