No. 1: An offensive upgrade over Raul Neto from last season
It seems a bit unrealistic for Jerome to be heading into next season as Cleveland’s primary backup lead guard option over Rubio.
Now, Rubio did not perform well last season, as he was taking time to get re-acclimated coming off his ACL injury, and wasn’t able to get comfortable as he would’ve liked. That played into Rubio’s struggles offensively, as a scorer, especially.
That said, Rubio’s veteran play and his playmaking vision and creativity could still lead to him being a valuable bench piece for stretches when Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell are being staggered. So, at least going into next season, with more time to get his rhythm and conditioning on-point with several more months removed from the ACL injury, it’d seem feasible to think Rubio can bounce back.
Whether or not that plays out, though, the signing of Jerome was logical because he provides a different skill set than Rubio, and with him being more viable offensively, he should be an upgrade as a depth lead guard option over Neto.
This isn’t to say Neto is not a player who can value for a team’s rotation. In instances prior to Rubio’s return last season, Neto’s point-of-attack defense, energy play and occasional slashing all led to him giving Cleveland some productive minutes.
Jerome simply projects to be a better offensive option than Neto, particularly as a shooter, and he’s a viable combo guard who can still initiate some offense. He was on a two-way contract last season, but Jerome did give the Golden State some solid minutes, leading to him having 6.9 points and 3.0 assists in 18.1 minutes per game, in 45 appearances.
When Jerome has had opportunities in meaningful time, last season with Golden State, and in the two seasons prior with the Oklahoma City Thunder, then on his rookie deal, he’s been a capable catch-and-shoot guy that has shown some on-ball shot creation abilities. Last season, he converted on 38.9 percent of his three-point attempts, and despite him hitting 29.0 percent from three in 2021-22, he did hit 42.3 percent from three in 2020-21.
Jerome’s chances have been fairly limited thus far at the NBA level, but with his shooting abilities, and being a capable ball-mover, also with 6-foot-5 size and decent vision, he should provide a more multifaceted skill set than Neto had this last season for Cleveland.