Detroit Pistons: Should Jalen Duren Start Over James Wiseman?
This Detroit Pistons didn’t expect the wheels to fall off this season or for star Cade Cunningham to be sidelined for the year. The team admitted one goal coming into the season was learning to compete before plans were derailed. That goal, believe it or not, was always optional in the overall grand scheme with player development and roster assessment most important to the rebuild.
Why? Because the deals and signings by Weaver suggest this was always a four, to five year rebuild process. With year four fast approaching and a pivotal free agency ahead, there’s a few more questions they need answered before.
Some fans have wondered why James Wiseman has been starting, and Jalen Duren’s playing time decreasing.
There’s a method to it all and I share my top three reasons why:
James Wiseman hasn’t had the opportunity to prove worthy of the number 2 overall pick. This sentiment was backed up by Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob in an interview with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami.
“I think James is a really good young player, and we’re not going to get many opportunities to draft a young guy like that again,” he said. “And he really didn’t … let’s be honest, he didn’t really have a chance; it’s partially his fault, partially bad luck, partially our fault for not playing him enough.
It’s as much an opportunity for Wiseman, as it is for coach Dwane Casey to figure out the rotation.
“We want to continue to look at our bigs and what combinations work in terms of them spacing and being able to score,” Casey said. “That’s our biggest challenge right now. We’re going to continue to look at different things with them to see how they play and what can help them be able to score and utilize each other.”
The more Wiseman shows before the season ends, the better for the Pistons whether they retain or trade him.
Before trading Saddiq Bey they moved him around the lineup, changed offensive situations and kept track of his strengths. Making sure to speak often of Bey’s good field goal percentage in catch and shoot situations, as well as the corner three months before he was traded. He even worked to improve isolation opportunities and efficiency as his usage rate increased when moved to the bench.
They followed a similar approach with former Piston Jerami Grant.
He was signed and given the same opportunity to shine, further boosting his value. The collaboration between the players and Weaver ensures better opportunity whether with the Pistons a la Marvin Bagley, or else where like Grant. Bagley utilized his opportunity to earn a 3-year contract extension worth $37 million, and Grant is due to cash in this coming free agency. Grant turned down a 4-year $112 million contract extension from the Portland Trailblazers according to Bleacher Report.
The important thing is Weaver made sure the Pistons gained each step of the way while respecting the players, despite the business implication of it all.
What more do you need to see from Jalen Duren at this point that starting would show? He’s shown he can handle everything the Pistons wanted to out of his rookie season. Most of what he will work on to take the next steps in development will take place in the off-season. They’ll have the opportunity to add more to Duren’s foundation.
Jalen Duren turned in his team-leading 16th double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds (six offensive) tonight against Milwaukee.
He has the most rebounds (522, 8.7/game) and offensive rebounds (203, 3.4/game) through 60 games played in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/NIwf8CdO4W
Duren hasn’t missed a beat with the addition of Wiseman, despite a small drop in minutes played per game. He’s averaged 11.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game while setting various franchise records regarding rebounds. These are averages greater than his full season production which has only increased as he’s gained more experience. But Duren is not content with his current growth and continues to work at improving consistently according to coach Casey.
“I thought he played well. JD (Jalen Duren) has handled coming off the bench well. His approach is great, his mentality is great, he’s still learning but he’s a sponge… He has great questions.”
James Wiseman’s success won’t mean Jalen Duren’s demise, it can only mean better for what’s ahead.
What’s Next for the Detroit Pistons
Jaden Ivey and the Detroit Pistons play the OKC Thunder on the road, Wednesday, March 29th at 8:00 PM.
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