Detroit Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart might compare best to Wes Unseld

Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

A lot has been made about comparing Detroit Pistons rookie center Isaiah Stewart to former Pistons great Ben Wallace. However, his game might be closer to another legendary center (who did not play for Detroit).

There was not a lot of praise heaped on Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver when he made Washington center Isaiah Stewart the 16th overall selection in last year’s NBA Draft.

Most mock drafts had Stewart going in the 20s. He was short for a center at 6-foot-8 and been mostly a low-post player with the Huskies. He only took 20 three-point shots in college (making five). In the three-point crazed NBA, that meant a lot.

Yet Weaver, who had served as an assistant with Washington coach Mike Hopkins under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, took Stewart with a pick Detroit had as part of the Christian Wood trade.

Flash forward five months, and Weaver could mock the mock drafters at this point, if he wanted to rub it in.

Isaiah Stewart is now being compared to great Detroit Pistons centers, and others

Stewart is averaging 7.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in his rookie season, but that does not tell the whole story.

He began the season as the third-string center, behind Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor, and did not play in Detroit’s first two games.

He slowly saw some playing time, and then an injury to Okafor opened up even more opportunities for Stewart to get on the court.

Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Stewart playing like a modern “Baby Ben Wallace”. light. Related Story

As the season has gone along,  Stewart’s gained more experience and confidence.

In the past two games, a win against Oklahoma City and and loss to the Wizards, Stewart averaged 17.0 points , 16.5 rebounds and 2 blocks.

His 21 rebounds versus the Thunder was the highest for a Detroit rookie since Leon Douglas in 1979.

‘Beef Stew’s’ recent fine play has drawn comparisons to other Detroit centers of the past:

Ben Wallace might seem to be a natural comparison. A five time All-NBA player, Wallace played a total of nine seasons in two stints with the Pistons, including the 2004 championship year.

Like Stewart, he was an undersized center who gobbled up rebounds and had a motor that never stopped.

However, Stewart seems to have a better all-around offensive game than Wallace (this is NOT a criticism of Wallace, just comparing their respective games).

Stewart is averaging 7.1 points a game and, per 36 minutes, would average 12.8 points. He is also shooting 42.9% on three-pointers. Stewart has not shot a lot of 3s (28, making 12) but, as a 19-year-old rookie, he is showing promise.

Now, Rasheed Wallace was more of a power forward but he did play center later in his career in Detroit. He was also a starter on the 2004 title team. Wallace was much more of a scorer than Ben Wallace.

He was a four time All-Star who scored 20 points a game for Atlanta the year before he went to Detroit. Rasheed was not a three-point threat, making just 33.6% of his shots beyond the arc.

Related Story. An ode to Detroit Pistons Rasheed Wallace. light

Based on Stewart’s current game, and projecting a bit into the future, it looks like he should score more than Ben Wallace, but maybe not quite the defensive player he was (few in NBA history were).

Stewart probably will not be the all-around scorer of a Rasheed Wallace , but maybe a better rebounder and three-point threat.

(So far, Beef Stew has had  little beef with the refs, unlike the technical-prone Rasheed Wallace)

Who is a good comparison for Isaiah Stewart among former NBA centers?

Maybe a good comparison to what Stewart could be if he continues to progress is: Wes Unseld.

Now this a name from the way-back machine.

Unseld was the center for the what is now known as the Washington Wizards from 1969 to 1981.

His size (6-7, 245) was very similar to Stewart. Like the Pistons rookie, Unseld was plenty ‘beefy’, as he was rock solid.

This was a time when center was the most important position on the court. Unseld, who was only 6-foot-7, had to deal with Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Bob Lanier and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

He did it well enough to be a four time All-Star and help Washington to the 1978 NBA championship.

Unseld (who passed away last year), averaged 11 points in his career, kind of inbetween where Rasheed and Ben Wallace were.

He was a voracious rebounder as he averaged 14 boards a game. Unseld was also a good passer, pick setter and defensive player.

Personality-wise, Unseld let his game do the talking. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988.

Being a good but not great scorer, a great rebounder and turning into a solid defender despite a lack of size, it seems Wes Unseld would be a good comparison for the type of player Stewart could become.

dark. Next. Detroit Doomsday: What if the Pistons Fall from the Top Five in NBA Draft?

That we are even using names like Wes Unseld, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace to compare Stewart to,  is a great compliment to how well he is playing.