Who are the 2022-23 Detroit Pistons? They weren’t picked by many to be competitive this season, but you still expect to see “Detroit Basketball”.
Defense, hustle, diving on the floor for loose balls and making sure the opposing team feels your fouls.
That was on full display in the Pistons 110-108 victory over the Nuggets, but this style of play needs to be more the norm.
You can understand off shooting nights, and endure not getting the friendly whistle when the team is playing tough. Despite shooting 28% from three and and 12 less free throws than the Nuggets, they looked like the better team.
The mile high altitude seemed to have no effect on the shorthanded Pistons. They hit their free throws, improved perimeter defense as the game went on and forced 18 Nugget turnovers.
From the starters to the bench, the Pistons looked like playoff contending team.
Marvin Bagley III (14 points), and Bojan Bogdanovic (22 points) held down the offense in the first half, as Alec Burks picked up his scoring pace in the 2nd half on the way to 21 points.
The J.D.E. (Jalen Duren Effect)
But big man Jalen Duren played 26 big minutes and was a team high +14 off the bench. I know four points and five rebounds doesn’t sound like too much, but the effect he had in the paint was felt.
Duren also led the team in offensive rebounds at 4, and held his own versus the NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. There was a play that most embodied how unfazed Duren was in the matchup. Things were getting tight and the Nuggets were beginning to make a run with Jokic scoring. Just over the top of Duren who almost got the block. His off arm struck Jokic in the face, which prompted him to bark at Duren all the way up the court.
How did the rookie take the league MVP giving him an ear full? He seemed as if he couldn’t care less, and didn’t let it knock him off his game.
Jalen Duren doesn’t look like he cares at all what Jokic is saying to him
— Brandon Dent | @WoodwardSports #DetroitKoolAid (@DetroitKoolAid) November 23, 2022
The most underrated part of Duren’s game is his playmaking. His court vision and ability to hit the cutters in stride with the perfect bounce pass has had me wanting to see more. When drafted, the Pistons execs mentioned the comparison to the legendary athletic Swiss army knife Sean Kemp.
With Isaiah Stewart out, it gets tough for coach Dwane Casey to balance the minutes and fouls between two bigs. Despite showing raw and rough edges around his amazing skill, Jalen Duren is showing enough natural ability to need more run.
Feels like just a matter of time.
Instead of rushing things along with no real development plan in place, the Pistons have the ability to take things slow with Duren. A plan I know the Pistons would go back in time and do over with Andre Drummond. He was drafted into a situation with very little at his disposal development wise. It wasn’t the most stable way to start a career with multiple head coaches and GM’s over the first several years. While being allowed to develop bad habits on both ends of the court due to lack of structure.
Jalen Duren wont have that same issue given the foundation Troy Weaver and coach Casey are laying. The best part of it all? Duren is showing much better basketball IQ early on that Drummond. He isn’t perfect and gets beat to some rebounds out of not being in the right place. And not using his body correctly, which has made the pick and roll less effective than with Marvin Bagley. But Duren is still the best rebounder, and deterrent in the paint defensively.
Dwane Casey might’ve said it best about Jalen Duren when comparing him to Kemp, “He’s raw, athletic and doesn’t know how good he can be.”
As Duren continues to learn the NBA game and just how massive an impact he can have, expect to see the Sean Kemp of it all.
Play of the Night
Jaden Ivey goes coast to coast in only four dribbles and four seconds!
— Woodward Pistons (@WoodwardPistons) November 23, 2022
The Pistons and Utah Jazz tip off Wednesday, November 23 at 9pm.
Want More Detroit Pistons?
Check out all of our Pistons coverage with Woodward Pistons via YouTube
Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports