New Trail Blazers starting power forward Jerami Grant is working on his chemistry with center Jusuf Nurkic and the rest of his new Portland compatriots, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Fentress writes that the team’s 2022 training camp tipped off on Tuesday in Santa Barbara.
“His length is incredible,” Nurkic raved of the 6’8″ forward. “Layups. Dunks. It’s so effortless.”
“I’m still learning the way he passes,” Grant said of the 6’11” center. “I’m figuring out when to cut, where to cut and kind of reading him.”
As Fentress notes, the Blazers could look to play Grant some minutes at small forward and even as a small-ball center. Like Nurkic, other teammates are also impressed with Grant’s two-way play and athleticism.
“Looking at Jerami, and the size, the athleticism and versatility sticks out,” star point guard Damian Lillard said of watching Grant from afar. “But then being able to see his skill set up close, he has been impressive.”
There’s more out of the Northwest Division:
- With four of the team’s starting positions set, three Trail Blazers players will compete in training camp for the remaining opening: the starting small forward gig. In a separate piece, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian examines the pros and cons of swingman Josh Hart, Nassir Little and Justise Winslow. “I think as a competitor we all want to start, we all want raises,” Winslow said of the process. “But at the same time, you understand that you’re part of a bigger team.”
- Nuggets MVP center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray are hoping to pick up right where the dynamic duo left off before Murray’s ACL tear in April 2021, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “It was fun,” Jokic said of a recent training camp practice together. “Like I said, it feels really natural, it feels easy. I think we’re gonna be back really soon.” Head coach Michael Malone registered his excitement for the return of the pairing this season. “It looks good, but I know it’s going to look better once Jamal gets back into game shape where he completely has no concerns about his knee.”
- The Jazz view recently-added 6’9″ big man Jarred Vanderbilt as primarily a power forward, and intend to only play him as a center in spot minutes, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jones cites that thinking as one of the incentives behind the club’s trade for former Pistons center Kelly Olynyk.