The Detroit Pistons are off to a slower than expected start, due to a myriad of reasons. Injuries to various players, including star Cade Cunningham who will miss the season, has derailed what the team thought they could achieve. Being the ninth youngest team in the NBA hasn’t provided any favors either.

Even general manager Troy Weaver was optimistic about the teams ability to compete for the first time during his tenure. “I think we have a full complement of players to compete every night,” Weaver said. “We’re in the competing stage right now. We have to be able to compete before you contend.”

Key phrase being “full complement of players”, which they just haven’t had. But does this mean the season is lost since the goal coming into the season, has been difficult to attain?

This year provides a unique window of player development and assessment. With one of the most important free agencies and drafts in recent Detroit Pistons history looming. They are on pace for a pretty decent draft pick, assets that can be traded, and at least fifty million dollars in cap space. Good enough to be a top player in the next off-season.

The ups, down and growth of rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren have been more than a consolation prize. But there’s a couple area’s of improvement that could provide even more excitement from the dynamic rookie pair.


Jaden Ivey

I understand the comparison to Ja Morant for Jaden Ivey. They have a similar style of play, but when my eyes catch flashes of flash, Dwyane Wade.  The ability to get to the basket in one dribble from the the perimeter and put a defender on a poster, as well as the playmaking are reminiscent of Wade. He also is closer to Wade than Morant in size, giving him the ability to better absorb and finish through contact at the rim.

But there’s two area’s holding Ivey back from really looking the part:

  1. Foot Work
  2. Mid Range Game (Floaters + Jumpers)

The foot work part can be difficult to change in season, but the mid range game is something that I’d like to see Ivey working on now.

Wade never had a season where he shot less than 45% of his field goals from the mid range and peaked . It made his explosive speed that more effective when getting around his initial defender. But able to score just outside of the paint before having to deal with a rim protecting defender.

I believe Ivey adding this to his game will also help him avoid taking big hits at the rim and when crashing to the floor. Whether he gets the call or not, it is largely beneficial that he doesn’t take a lot of hits.

With averages of 15 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4 assists per game, these improvements could see Ivey realistically become an 18/5/5 type of player by year two.


Jalen Duren

The Pistons big man Jalen Duren has had quite the story arc this season. When drafted there was some that wondered if the rebounding machine would have to spend time with the Motor City Cruise. The Detroit Pistons NBA G-League affiliate is well equipped to help in the development of a talent like Duren with head coach DJ Bakker at the helm. But Duren proved he belonged on an NBA roster in training camp and has climbed that ascent into the starting lineup.

The more of Duren fans have gotten, the more they want. So what’s stopping head coach Dwane Casey from giving him more minutes? Foul trouble.

Over the first 10 games of the season Duren averaged 1.9 fouls in just under 22 minutes per game. A foul rate of 8.6%. But in the 7.4 minutes extra per game he’s gotten over the last five games, he’s averaged 3.6 fouls. That’s an additional 1.7 fouls with the added time for a total 12.4% foul rate! Nearly 50% increase in being called for foul when given 25% more playing time above the 22 minutes.

I also believe Duren could benefit from a few consistent post moves. Does he have a reliable jump hook? Back to the basket game? Can he take a slower footed big off the dribble? We’ve all seen flashes that prove he’s capable, and would like to see more as his opportunities grow.

Jalen Duren is already proving to fit the mold of all-time Pistons rebounders, but how many had reliable offense to match? It’s what held back previous Detroit rebounding giant Andre Drummond. That and a “low motor” as many observers often noted. Duren doesn’t have that issue at all and has shown more natural offensive ability in his rookie season, than I ever remember from Drummond’s entire time as a Piston.


What’s Next

The Pistons play the Utah Jazz Tuesday, December 20th, at 7PM.

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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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By Published On: December 20th, 2022Categories: Detroit Pistons, NBA

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