The Detroit Pistons have been playing better basketball of late. No one is going to raise a banner over a 4-5 record over their last nine games, but when you consider they had only won four games in the entire season up until that point, it’s progress.
Part of that has been a surge from guards Jaden Ivey and Marcus Sasser, who have both been fantastic of late. The Pistons also got a boost from the trade for Mike Muscala, who has helped stretch the floor from the five spot playing both off the bench and in the starting five.
Another big part has been the play of Jalen Duren, who has been putting up monster stats in February that are place him in the conversation as one of the top-10 centers in the league, not bad considering he’s not even old enough to legally purchase a beer.
Duren is currently 11th among centers in the NBA with 14.3 points per game and is second overall in rebounds per game, hauling in 12.2, just a hair behind league-leader Rudy Gobert.
And those numbers have gotten even better in February.
Jalen Duren’s big February for the Detroit Pistons
In five games so far this month, Duren is averaging 16.6 points, 14.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 64 percent from the floor and 89.4 percent from the free-throw line, an area that is rapidly becoming a weapon for him.
Duren needs to improve his defense, as he’s still not averaging even a block per game, doesn’t always close out with energy or intent and can get lost in the pick and roll.
But defense usually comes slower for big men, who have a lot to learn in any scheme, and Duren certainly has the physical tools to be an above-average defender.
The offense and rebounding are already ahead of schedule and Duren’s athleticism creates matchup problems at times, especially when the guards are knocking down their shots.
We’ve seen enough that fans should be excited about a 20 year old who is already showing star qualities with plenty of room for improvement.