The final position group is that of the big guys down low. Jalen Duren battled injury after injury throughout December, but when healthy, he reminds fans that he is truly someone to build around. His energy and walking double-double ability take this team to new levels. He will never be a scoring first center, but surrounded by the right pieces, he has all-star abilities. His defense could use a little work, if we’re being picky, but as of now, his largest knock is his health and availability.
Isaiah Stewart, too, was going through it health-wise in December. Only appearing in nine games, Stewart had his nightly scoring drop from 10.5 to 8.7, but his three-point shooting percentage increase from 37 to a great 45 percent. Isaiah has worked tirelessly on his perimeter shooting, and it showed in December. He needs to spend time now working on his ball handling and driving to the rim, but getting healthy could help in that regard as well.
Detroit was extremely thin at center for a few weeks due to injury and illness. When Duren and Stewart were out, and Bagley was laboring because of back spasms, James Wiseman stepped up. I was firmly against continuing the Wiseman experiment (and still am), he provided multiple games in which Detroit had a shot thanks to him. During a stretch of four games, James finished with double figures, including a double-double against Philly. In my mind, that’s what Wiseman is. Your reserve, emergency center. And he played that part in December.