Is Jerian Grant the backup point guard of the future for the Chicago Bulls?

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16: Jerian Grant
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16: Jerian Grant /

Jerian Grant had an up-and-down first season with the Chicago Bulls. While his ceiling may not be super high, there’s reason to believe he could be an effective player in the right situation.

With the rebuild underway, the Chicago Bulls are very much trying to find their “point guard of the future.” After last season’s revolving door of worse-than-mediocre point guards, Kris Dunn was acquired in a draft night trade, and it appears, at least thus far, that the starting point guard job is his to lose. 

I think Bulls fans should be okay with that. No matter how uninspiring Dunn’s rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves was, there’s no denying he has the highest ceiling of the point guards on the Bulls’ roster.

Beyond Dunn, there’s Cameron Payne, who is better at reminding Bulls fans how incompetent the front office is than he is at playing basketball and who practiced with the Bulls only twice before they realized he was not good. 

There’s also Ryan Arcidiacono and the newly signed Bronson Koenig, but they’re nothing more than cheap, scratch-off lottery tickets that aren’t likely to turn into much of anything. If you hit on them, great. But nobody expects to hit, and if you lose, you didn’t spend a whole lot of money anyway.

Then, there’s Jerian Grant.

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The same Jerian Grant that looked like there might be a pretty good player inside of him at times last season. That’s also the same Jerian Grant who couldn’t hold down the point guard spot over Isaiah Canaan in the playoffs last year once Rajon Rondo went down with a fractured thumb.

Unfortunately, Grant will be 25 this season and there really might not be a whole lot more room for him to improve. That’s actually fine, because in Grant, it turns out the Bulls might have a pretty good backup point guard on their hands.

Granted, “pretty good backup point guard” might not be the best label to have attached to your name. But, think about the value guys like Patty Mills or Shaun Livingston provide to their teams.

Sure, those guys are in the absolute ideal situations that maximize their strengths on a basketball court, but whose to say the Bulls couldn’t put Grant in a similar situation?

For the most part, Grant was effective when he played with the starters last season. The lineup of Grant, Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez notched a net rating of +18.4 in their 133 minutes played together, per

Now where did that production come from? The obvious reason is that Grant doesn’t need the ball to be effective, which allowed both Butler and Wade to have the ball in their hands, whether in isolation or in a pick-and-roll set. Grant was great at spotting up last season, where he scored 1.13 points per possession, which was in the 81st percentile, according to

That alone is a valuable enough trait for a point guard. Guys like Patrick Beverley and George Hill have made quite the careers out of spotting up while playing next to guys like Paul George, Gordon Hayward and James Harden.

Obviously, Grant doesn’t defend like those guys do. However, there’s reason to believe that the potential is there. Grant’s 6-foot-7 wingspan is great for a point guard and he’s shown the ability to use that wingspan to be a pest on defense.

He’s far from perfect and has a long way to go before he’s at the level of Hill or Beverley. However, I’ll repeat: the potential is there.

The aforementioned Grant/Butler/Wade/Gibson/Lopez lineup suffocated opponents to just 94.6 points per 100 possessions, according to, which is an impressive number for a lineup that’s played over 100 minutes together and certainly one of the Bulls’ best defensive lineups.

Grant could stand to improve his ability to run a pick-and-roll, as he scored just .78 points per possession in limited sample as the PnR ball handler, down in the 47th percentile, according to

Though, again, that simply might not be who Grant is. Patrick Beverley scored just .80 points per possession out of the pick-and-roll. You can be an effective point guard without dominating this aspect of the game.

I’m not using all of this to say that Jerian Grant is going to be some kind of superstar. Rather, he is what he is. He might be a good-to-great backup point guard that could excel in a starting role in the perfect situation. Like I previously said, there’s plenty of value for a player like that.

Last week, Denzel Valentine told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that he expects his role to increase into being more of a playmaker, similar to what he was when he averaged almost eight assists per game at Michigan State just two years ago. If Valentine really is going to be more of a playmaker this season, it’s fun to imagine him and Grant in the backcourt together.

Next: Robin Lopez and weighing his value for the Chicago Bulls in a new era

Grant could space things out while Valentine runs pick-and-rolls. I personally don’t think Valentine has much of a future running an offense in the NBA, but that’s neither here nor there. Regardless, I’m down to see it in action in what is otherwise a lost season for the Bulls. Grant happens to be the perfect backcourt partner for that version of Denzel Valentine.

As for Jerian Grant, he might not have the ceiling that Kris Dunn has. What he is now is already an effective player, though. Hopefully the Bulls can stick him in a situation where he can maximize that effectiveness.