The drafting of center Jalen Duren was supposed to be an investment in the future for the Detroit Pistons. But what if the future is now? If Duren can play NBA minutes this season, that might create some rotation problems for coach Dwane Casey.
With the second trade between the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons now official, the additions of center Nerlens Noel and guard Alec Burks put the roster for the Pistons at the maximum 15 players that Detroit can have during the regular season (maximum 20 in off-season).
One of the oddities of the construction of the current roster (and with general manager Troy Weaver’s love of making deals, it can change, as we all know, any minute), is that Detroit has one-third of its roster dedicated to players who are either pure centers or center/forwards.
In a guard and wing-oriented league, that is kind of strange.
Now that he is Piston, Noel joins Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III, Kelly Olynyk and Jalen Duren as low post players.
One can assume, the Noel addition, and maybe even the re-signing of Bagley, was probably done with the understanding that Duren would basically take a redshirt year this season.
It made sense. Duren is 18-years-old. He was not old enough to vote in last year’s election, as he does not turn 19 until late November. Duren also does not have as much experience compared to even most one-and-done draft picks.
Duren should have just been finishing his senior year of high school, but he reclassified and played at Memphis instead. Having him sit back, with no pressure, and watch what the NBA is about, mentored by veteran Noel, getting to play in some games in garbage time, maybe some G-League contests as well, would seem to be a natural plan for a kid.
One problem with that plan. The Kid is alright – right now!
Duren, from the first play of Summer League, has been a revelation:
In the first two Pistons summer league games, Duren averaged 11 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in just 19 minutes a game. And this is with him playing alongside last year’s starting center Isaiah Stewart, in Detroit’s twin towers experiment.
At 6-foot-11, 250-pounds, Duren physically can match up with any center in the NBA.
Coach Casey has compared Duren’s potential to Shawn Kemp, a six-time all-star. Right now, just being able to score on lobs, pass well, run the floor and blocking shots, Duren can pretty much achieve the same things that Detroit paid Andre Drummond over $100 million to do.
( Not saying he is as good as Drummond yet, but a much better bang for the buck for Detroit for what they give you.)
That Duren is so young is known only due to his birth certificate. He looks and plays like a man.
Yes, it is noted that Duren is facing rookies, benchwarmers and G-League level players in summer league. But, everyone has to agree, he has shown potential.