With Jalen Duren, as well as Isaiah Stewart, looking good in summer league, the Detroit Pistons could have five quality centers when the NBA season starts. Is that good?, or too many fighting for limited playing time?
There is only so much that can be gleaned from two summer league games, but it is pretty obvious to state that rookie center Jalen Duren is in no need of time in the G-League.
On the surface, Duren’s resume’ screams Motor City Cruise: He should have been a senior in high school this past season but reclassified, 18-years-old (he does not turn 19 until mid-November) and just one year of colleges basketball under his belt, pretty much points to G-League.
But, when you see him play, well. … :
Don’t look at Duren’s birth certificate, look at his play. Her certainly deserves NBA minutes. The G-League, where he would most likely going against players who can not match up with him physically, would be a waste of time.
This is good news but it does create a logjam at the center position for the Pistons this season.
The Detroit Pistons have 5 good centers, how do you play them all?
Currently, the Pistons have the following players who can play center:
- Jalen Duren
- Isaiah Stewart
- Kelly Olynyk
- Marvin Bagley III
- Nerlens Noel
Bagley, Noel and Olynyk are solid NBA veterans who should expect to see solid minutes. Also, money talks. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver signed both Olynyk and Bagley to contracts that give them about $13 million a year. You do not pay a player that much to sit on the bench.
Noel is an excellent defensive center and the Knicks finished fourth in the Eastern Conference two years ago with Noel starting.
Of course, Stewart was the starting center last year and is a former NBA All-Rookie and Rising Stars Game selection. He has also looked good in Summer League and he has given the coaching staff no reason to cut back on his minutes.
So what to do? Look at the Celtics.
Be ready for Twin Towers
With Jerami Grant having been traded to Portland, minutes at the power forward position now have opened up.
Olynyk has played the ‘4’ position a lot in his career, so he can certainly adjust to being a forward. But none of the other four have been shown to have a decent outside shot, which is kind of important to play power forward in today’s NBA.
The Celtics made a run to the NBA finals this season, in large part, due to Al Horford, formerly their starting center, could move to power forward because he can shoot the three-pointer. That allowed Boston to start defensive rim protector Robert Williams at center.
Also, Anthony Davis is a big man who is good at shooting threes, so the Lakers could play him at power forward when they won the championship in 2020.
Stewart has been doing well in summer league making three-pointers, and he did nail 11 of his final 18 three-point attempts at the end of the last season.
You can put Olynyk and Stewart at power forward and allow Bagley, Noel and Duren to man the center position.
Noel might need to start if Weaver is looking to flip him in a trade. No one is giving Detroit anything for a fifth-string center who can’t get off the bench for a non-contender. Olynyk is also someone who other clubs might be interested in.
But, assuming all five centers stay with the team to start the season, coach Dwane Casey is going to have a good problem: too many good centers. How it gets resolved wil lbe something to watch.