The Detroit Pistons have two rookies in Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren who have both flashed signs of stardom this season.
Ivey has gotten more efficient as the season has progressed and looks more comfortable initiating the offense and shooting from the mid-range and 3-point line, three things that were questions about him coming into the season.
Duren was a rebounding machine after being inserted into the starting lineup, averaging a double double and putting himself in position to break some Pistons’ records.
But Duren has hit a bit of a wall since All-Star break and has been dealing with ankle soreness that has kept him out of the lineup, which has hurt his standings in the rookie rankings.
After being mainstays on the Kia Rookie Ladder (the NBA’s weekly rookie rankings) both players have slid of late and Duren is at risk of sliding off altogether and possible losing a spot on the All-Rookie team.
Detroit Pistons on the Rookie Ladder
In this week’s rankings, Paolo Banchero and Bennedict Mathurin once again held down the top two spots, which they have for most of the season.
I was actually surprised to see Jaden Ivey stay in the 6th position, as he averaged 17.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.0 apg since the last Rookie Ladder, better than several of the players ahead of him, though to be fair, Keegan Murray and Jalen Williams are playing on better teams.
Walker Kessler jumped all the way up to #3, which is making that Rudy Gobert trade look even worse than it already did, as Kessler has been one of the best rim protectors in the league this season and is on a rookie deal, while Gobert cost the Timberwolves a fortune.
Kessler now looks like a lock for the 1st-team All Rookie squad as the center, but what about Jalen Duren? Duren has slid all the way down to 9th and is now in a dogfight with Mark Williams of the Charlotte Hornets for the second big-man spot on the All-Rookie team.
It could very well come down to this final stretch of games, so let’s hope Duren can get back on the floor soon and start putting up numbers similar to what he was doing before he injured his ankle.