When thinking of the legacy of the Detroit Pistons, it doesn’t take long to get to the front court. Throughout the franchise storied history, Detroit has had great big men each time they’ve been contenders. The bad boys with Rick Mahorn and Bill Lambeer, and the going to work Pistons with Rasheed and Ben Wallace. Not to mention all time great big men like Bob Lanier, the bar is set high for the bigs in the Motor City. In the modern NBA, people tend to focus less on big men and more on guards. However, the game of basketball has and always will be a game of giants. And when it comes to front courts the Pistons have had, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren is a combination particularly promising.
Even though Detroit is currently sitting at 8-23, one bright spot has been Detroit’s big men. Both Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren have given the Pistons reasons for optimisim. Duren, at the age of 19, just notched his fifth straight game with 12+rebounds. The only other player as a teen with that long of a streak? Dwight Howard. It’s because of performances like this that the youngest player in the league earned a spot as a starter. There were wonders before this season if Duren was going to spend any time with the Motor City Cruise. He became a starter before the calendar year flipped. His rebounding instincts, his potential as a perimiter defender, and his bounce make him a future star. And even though Detroit is thrilled with Jaden Ivey, Duren could be the true grand prize from this draft.
Pistons found a diamond in the rough in Isaiah Stewart
When the Pistons acquired Jalen Duren in the 2022 draft, fans wondered if he was replacing Isaiah Stewart. And it’s been quite apparent since day one that Troy Weaver is invested in these two playing together. Isaiah Stewart’s perimiter game is expanding, and his summer studying the game of Al Horford is paying dividends. Before this year’s summer league, Isaiah Stewart never played the four in his life. Now, he is not only starting as a power forward, but he’s thriving as one.
According to Pistons PR, Stewart is shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc since November 11th. That’s the 8th best mark in the NBA. The more confident Stewart grows with his shot, and the more he can score inside the arc. the more dangerous he is. Combine his added scoring threat with his hussle and instintcs defensively? You have a small ball five tailored for the NBA. Not only that, but a player that has the attitude and moxy that gives shades of Lambier, Wallace, and Mahorn.
The NBA’s scariest young front court: “The Dawg Pound”
Not only has the franchise bought in on this duo, but Stewart and Duren have quickly embraced it as well. Earlier this week on Instagram, Jalen Duren posted an image of him and Isaiah Stewart, with the caption “the Dawg Pound”. If this is indeed their new montra, it is a fitting one. As each and every night oppopsing bigs square off, they’re going to face physicality and grit, and will have a tough time controlling the glass. In their matchup against the Hornets, Stewart and Duren combined for 5 blocks and 30 rebounds. 9 of those boards coming on the offensive glass. Although it was by no means a perfect defensive performance, it’s a glimpse into their ceiling. If these two players continue to develop their skills and chemistry, the sky is the limit.
One major factor that can determine the success of a big man’s career, is the guards they are paired with. And for Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren, they might be blessed with some of the best young guard talent in the league. Between Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Killian Hayes, all three players are dynamic playmakers. And in addition, with the latest resurgence of Hayes, all three have shown the ability to score as well. Duren and Stewart will both get easy looks and opportunities thanks to these guards, but also Duren and Stewart will give them far more second chances. And with Stewart’s ability to switch and stretch the floor, Detroit could potentially have 3 guard-2 big lineups. When you have a dynamic front court, history tends to say your title chances are pretty good. And going forward, Detroit could be playing with firecrackers and gasoline.
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Featured Image Credit: Rick Osentoski USA Today Sports