Sophomore Jalen Duren is listed as questionable against Cleveland due to an ankle issue. As a core member of the Detroit Pistons’ rebuild, we hope the injury isn’t more serious than initially reported, and we look forward to seeing Duren on the court again soon.
With or without Duren, the Pistons will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. While Cleveland currently holds the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference standings, it’s still early in the season, and both teams could turn things around. To do so, Detroit and Cleveland will need stellar play from their young bigs.
Jalen Duren vs. Evan Mobley
Although their games are different, Duren can look to Mobley’s game for ways to develop, especially on the defensive end.
Evan Mobley an inch taller and has an extra year of NBA experience. He plays about five more minutes a night and has a slightly higher usage rate. As a consequence, Mobley gets more touches and scores more points.
Duren, on the other hand, is one of the best “true centers” in the NBA, and he plays well around the basket. As a center in today’s game, he needs to be constantly active to score. He seldom hears his number called, but he cuts well and fights for rebounds to score off misses and influence the game’s pace. This year, Duren has sought opportunities. His activity off the pick and roll helped the Pistons in their two wins, especially when he contributed 23 against Chicago.
Cleveland plays Mobley as a power forward alongside Jarett Allen, and their defense is predicated upon the two bigs rotating, protecting the paint, and affecting passes.
Mobley’s calling card is his defense, and even when he’s pulled out of the paint, his long arms and defensive awareness helps him deflect passes and cover more space. He can slide laterally and affect drives even when defending faster, smaller players. He’s long enough that when a shooter elevates, he can get a finger on the ball even when he’s a step behind.
Duren has proven he’s a solid defender. He can switch effectively and protect the paint. His defense will continue to grow along with the rest of his game, and developing his awareness to know how opponents shift on the weak side should improve his ability to help.
When he played earlier in the season, Duren showed his offensive development. Mobley has shown an ability to defend as a lengthy big that affects teams that want to play small. Duren can look to Mobley’s game for ways to maximize the value of his 7-foot-5 wingspan and help Detroit improve defensively.
Duren affects shots around the rim, but has yet to consistently change them on the perimeter, something Mobley is very good at doing. Mobley closes out on shooters under control, doesn’t bite on as many pump fakes and has active hands in the passing lane, all things Duren could improve.
It’s too bad we won’t likely see them tonight, but Duren vs. Mobley will be an interesting matchup for years to come and Duren can learn plenty from Mobley’s game.