By: Ize Flores
After Jeremiah Gray’s forgettable second PBA Finals appearance, many fans looked forward to watching Jeremiah Gray play for Ginebra’s On Tour squad.
Now, he’s showing that we might have been looking at the wrong side of his game.
The burden of being “The Guy”
It is not as simple as it appears to be the main man after being the fourth option the previous conference. This is what you would call trial by fire.
Carrying more on-ball responsibilities, Jeremiah Gray did almost everything on the court besides what he’s known for. In his first three games, Gray averaged 6.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 21% shooting from the field while only hitting 1 of his 18 attempts from deep.
Many fans were left wondering what happened to the Ginebra wingman.
But in his next four games, the 26-year-old forward averaged 20.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists on 40% shooting from the field and a much better 31% shooting from deep.
Gray got more involvement as the pick-and-roll ball-handler than usual, being one of the few players from last conference’s team playing this preseason. His percentages are still not up to what most people would expect. But I’d give him the benefit of the doubt since handling more responsibility on the offensive end can require more effort and energy.
Actually being THAT guy
Being the shooter that he was last conference, it’s normal to expect a high-point output from Jeremiah Gray. But we may have overlooked his other contributions on the floor – such as defense, rebounding, and playmaking.
|2022-23 Commissioner’s Cup
|2023 PBA On Tour (7 games)
It’s the preseason. But it’s also nice to watch Gray’s entire repertoire in action. Averaging a near 15-10-5, even in the preseason is no easy feat.
His 6-foot-4 frame allows him to be disruptive defensively. Being the weak side wing defender in some scenarios, his length can cover a lot of space for help and tags – he’s almost the typical PBA big size, but faster and quicker.
He’s a scorer… who shoots
What fans often get wrong when describing someone’s game is whether someone is a ‘shooter’ or a ‘scorer.’
I understand the confusion, though. Shooters score, and a scorer shoots. Right?
Jeremiah Gray is most definitely a scorer. What surprised me is that he’s a way better creator with the ball in his hands rather than in catch-and-go situations. He’s the prototypical shot-creating wing you can give the ball to and trust to create opportunities.
It was not a coincidence that the 26-year-old forward’s playmaking opened up after his shots started falling.
Over his first seven games, Gray dished out at least 5 assists on 5 different occasions, including a near-triple double performance over Rain or Shine, dropping 19 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing out 8 assists.
What’s next for Jeremiah Gray?
This is what PBA On Tour is all about.
Players can get reps where they wouldn’t normally get in the regular conferences. For a player like Jeremiah Gray, he has now been able to work on his on-ball playmaking while having room to make mistakes and make up for it.
Jeremiah Gray is not just a shooter. He’s a scorer. But will it translate in the regular conferences? I guess we’ll have to see for ourselves.urselves.