clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jerian Grant Stubbornly Refuses To Get Supplanted by Kris Dunn

New, comments

Kris Dunn Fans Need to Continue to Wait

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

After back-to-back games (Nov. 1 against Miami and Nov. 3 against Orlando) where Kris Dunn recorded 11 points while playing his signature suffocating on-ball defense and showing flashes with his jump shot, there was a large faction of the Bulls fan base calling for Dunn to dislodge Jerian Grant from the starting point guard position.

However, it was to no avail as head coach Fred Hoiberg has penned in Grant as the starting point guard in all eight of the Bulls games thus far. And in response, Jerian Grant has made a simple change over the last two games to hold onto the job.

“I was able to push the ball and find my teammates,” Grant said. “If I continue to do that we can win some games and be in a game with a team like that. I want to take care of the ball. I felt my main focus was trying to be aggressive and not just find guys, be aggressive and it turned out I did have some assists.”

-Jerian Grant per Bulls.com writer Sam Smith

In an outstanding breakdown last week, The Athletic writer Darnell Mayberry distinguished between Grant, a distributor, versus Dunn a playmaker.

Over the last two games, Grant has molded into a player deserving of that playmaking label, averaging 7.5 assists per game with only one turnover in two games. But the change with Grant isn’t the number of assists (he’s averaging seven per game on the season), but rather how he is going about getting these assists.

An aggressive Grant gets all the way to the basket, draws two defenders (including the shot-blocking Anthony Davis) and dumps it off to Robin Lopez for a look that Lopez should have hit. It’s plays like these that Grant has been making more consistently in the last two games compared to the first six.

In his article, Sam Smith speculates that pressure from the coaching staff to be a true point guard caused Grant to initially play passively and fall into the ball-stopping habits that so frustrated Bulls fans.

“I’m still trying to figure out (the balance),” Grant admitted after the loss to the Pelicans. “We have some great shooters on this team and I try to get the ball to them. But as a point guard in this league, you still have to be aggressive. You are going up against guys who are going to attack you all game. So you also have to attack them and make sure they are not resting on defense. My shot will come, but at the same time I have to be aggressive.”

-Jerian Grant per Bulls.com writer Sam Smith

Although Dunn’s athleticism and raw tools gives him a higher upside than Grant, Dunn has still been a turnover machine this season.

According to NBA.com, Dunn’s 0.76 assist/turnover ratio is the ninth-worst mark out of 161 guards that have averaged at least 15 minutes per game this season. Dunn is turning the ball over on 28.4 percent of his plays which is even worse than the 20.8 percent turnover percentage he posted his rookie season.

This susceptibility to turn the ball over, possibly accentuated by his dislocated finger injury, will continue to prevent Dunn from snatching the starting point guard reigns away from Grant. The Bulls turn the ball over 16.9 times per game which is the fifth-highest mark in the NBA. Therefore, having a point guard who takes care of the ball like Grant does is a valuable commodity to this team.

But what about the more aggressive Grant narrative? Should we buy it or is it fool’s gold?

According to NBA.com, Grant has averaged 9.5 drives in the last two games, recording an assist on 21.1 percent of those drives. In the first six games this season, Grant averaged 9.2 drives per game and recorded an assist on 16.4 percent of these drives.

It’s difficult to guess whether the higher assist percentage is him making better passes off of drives, or if his teammates just happened to hit more shots these past two games.

Nonetheless, Grant will continue to retain the starting point guard spot for now. Whether he actually plays more aggressively will be an interesting storyline to follow in the future.