The Detroit Pistons got a surprise win over the Western Conference-leading OKC Thunder yesterday that was powered by strong overall team play and a monster game from Jalen Duren.
The 20-year-old center dropped 22 points to lead the Pistons, adding 21 rebounds and six assists in just 31 minutes, joining some impressive company in the process.
Duren still needs big work on defense, but it's a lot to ask a 20-year-old big to be the defensive anchor of a team populated with so many poor perimeter defenders. Duren needs to be a better rim protector, there is no doubt, but the play is often doomed by the perimeter defense, not his.
Duren did have a block last night and held Chet Holmgren to just nine points on poor shooting. His strength and quickness clearly bothered Holmgren at times but there were other impressive parts of Duren's big night.
Jalen Duren showing an incredible offensive ceiling for the Detroit Pistons
I was most impressed with Duren's patience last night, as he picked his spots in the pick-and-roll and didn't rush things when he got it in the post.
Holmgren is a great shot blocker, but Duren used pump fakes to keep him off balance and was able to get a couple of baby hooks over the 7-footer.
He knocked down a 15-footer, then a fadeaway in the paint, but did most of his damage as a roll man, and the Thunder had no answer, especially with Jaden Ivey and Marcus Sasser with the ball, players who are a threat to score:
Duren made some nice dishes when the double teams did come, and I was impressed by his determination on the offensive glass, which can be a weapon for him.
This was after a lackluster game against the Wizards in which he was terrible defensively and didn't play with much spirit.
Consistency will be the next step in his offensive evolution as he continues to showcase the things he's been working on in practice, but Duren looked like one of the best centers in the league last night and has a chance to be a real offensive weapon for Detroit.
Now he just has to make similar strides on the defensive end.