A lot has been made about the glut of centers on the Detroit Pistons, who added James Wiseman to a roster that already had Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III.
There is plenty to debate about how Monty Williams should use them, but one thing most people agree on is that Jalen Duren has the highest ceiling of the group.
Duren was the youngest player in the NBA last season and will still be a teenager when the 2023-24 begins. He’s already shown that he is an elite athlete for the position, one of the best young rebounders in the game, and a surprisingly good passer for someone his age.
But that wasn’t enough to impress Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, who left Jalen Duren off his rankings of the best bigs under 25 with the highest ceilings.
Detroit Pistons: Jalen Duren is one of the best young bigs in the game
If this list were just “best centers under 25” then I wouldn’t have much issue with it, but it’s the “with highest ceilings” qualifier that makes it far more subjective. Here is B/R’s top-10:
- 10: Nic Claxton
- 9: Onyeka Okongwu
- 8: Alperen Sengun
- 7: Walker Kessler
- 6: Jabari Smith Jr.
- 5: Jaren Jackson Jr.
- 4: Evan Mobley
- 3: Chet Holmgren
- 2: Zion Williamson
- 1: Victor Wembanyama
There are two players in the top-3 who have yet to play an NBA game, but in the case of Wembanyama it is probably warranted. Chet Holmgren missed all of last season with an injury and Zion Williamson has barely played in his whole career, so even though these players have shown tantalizing talent, their injuries put more of a limitation on their “ceilings.”
I would probably have Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. ahead of Evan Mobley, as he has not only shown elite defense but the ability to shoot from range. Mobley is only two years younger, so there’s not a significant age gap there.
But it’s the back end of the list that is up for the most debate. Is Nic Claxton better than Jalen Duren now? Yes. But he’s also four years older, so he should be. Come ask me that question again after next season.
Same with Onyeka Okongwu, who actually put up worse numbers (aside from shot blocking) than Duren last season and is also three years older. I wouldn’t agree that either of these players have a higher ceiling than Duren and I think most will come to that conclusion in the next couple of seasons.