Trending up after week 1
We may have to recalibrate Jalen Duren’s ceiling, as the 19-year-old has looked like one of the best centers in the NBA through the first three games. Yes, it’s an early and small sample size, but the things he’s doing look sustainable, as he’s mostly getting his points off put backs and lobs. His defense has been unreal. His rebounding is already outstanding and he’s rapidly becoming an unstoppable weapon in the pick and roll.
He’s averaging an eye-popping 18 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.7 blocks per game through the first three games while shooting 80 percent from the floor. These are All-NBA numbers.
Duren will come back to earth a bit eventually, but his leap has been faster than expected and if he is going to play defense like this, the Pistons may be ahead of schedule as a team.
Alec Burks may be the most underrated bench player in the NBA, as you rarely hear his name but the man has been a bucket for years.
Burks has been huge this season for the Pistons, as he’s averaging on 16 points per game on 50 percent shooting from long range. He has been the steadying force when Detroit’s offense has slumped, hitting big shot after big shot to help them through droughts.
Burks has really been the team’s only floor spacer and there is a noticeable difference in the offense when he’s in there, though I still like starting the best defensive unit and bringing Burks off the bench.
Marvin Bagley III
I’ve definitely made my share of snide comments about MBIII over the years, mostly about his inability to stay healthy and/or play defense. His defense is still not great, but he’s putting in the effort this season, which is one of the reasons he’s in there over James Wiseman. Monty Williams is using MBIII has a lightning-in-a-bottle scorer off the bench and it’s working, as he’s only playing 14.7 minutes per game but averaging 11 points and six rebounds in that time.
Like Burks, MBIII has been a steadying presence on offense when the team needs a bucket. I love that he’s only playing in short bursts but often changing the game while he is in there. His scoring has carried the Pistons through some droughts and it’s great to have a guy like him coming off the bench.
But not everyone on the Detroit Pistons is trending up.