Rookie Jalen Duren has started all three Summer League games for the Detroit Pistons and has mostly been very impressive.
The 18-year-old seems to be ahead of schedule offensively, as he has been effective rolling to the rim for lobs, has flashed a few post moves and has even shown the ability to pass out of the double team.
The Pistons are going to bring him along slowly, but considering he didn’t even get a chance to practice with the team before Summer League, they have to be excited about what he has shown so far.
Jalen Duren has been aggressive rolling to the rim off screens and looking for lobs, a weapon the Detroit Pistons didn’t really have last season and one that is undoubtedly going to help Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes progress as guards.
But there is one area that he definitely needs to improve and that is rebounding. It’s not just the numbers (which are low) but his approach that really needs to change.
Detroit Pistons: Jalen Duren’s rebounding
Rebounding is one area that young big men often struggle with in their early NBA careers. This is usually because they are used to being the biggest, strongest guy on the floor which made it easy to rebound in college without proper technique or a lot of hustle.
Duren grabbed eight rebounds per game in college, which is not bad, but certainly not dominant when you consider his size and athleticism. His per game totals were just 69th overall in the NCAA last season, while the leaders were all in double digits.
He’s averaged just 3.3 rebounds per game so far in the Summer League, which is 4th on the Pistons just ahead of guard Jaden Ivey and behind Isaiah Stewart, Braxton Key and Isaiah Livers.
If you watch Duren closely, especially on the defensive end, he often does not block out, gets caught flat-footed and does not pursue the ball with the type of motor you need to have in the NBA.
When you watch and compare him and Beef Stew it is night and day, as Stewart pursues the ball aggressively while Duren often floats towards the rim when the shot goes up, standing straight up and passively waiting for the ball to come to him.
Here you’ll see him give a lackluster push to his own teammate while standing flat-footed and waiting for the ball to come to him. It didn’t and he stood there and watched as the offensive player came from the weak side and grabbed it right in front of him.
Duren needs to find a body to box out here and needs to pursue this ball with a little hustle, not just wait for it to fall into his hands. Rebounding is about effort and he doesn’t show much here.
Terry Taylor grabbed five offensive rebounds in the game against the Pacers, most of which were when Duren was on the floor.
On this play, Duren once again doesn’t box out and let’s the smaller man get around him, out-hustle him and rip the ball away. This is a board he has to grab, and he was simply out-worked, which you never want to see.
This is ONLY SUMMER LEAGUE, so we should take Duren’s successes and failures with a grain of salt, as he is still only 18 and has a lot to learn.
It’s also important to realize that rebounding also takes feel and reps, as you have to be able to react quickly to missed shots, and have impeccable timing, something that takes not only instincts but muscle memory and practice.
Duren is going to learn quickly that size and athleticism alone are not enough to be a good rebounder in the NBA, you still have to have strong fundamentals and give maximum effort going after the ball.