This past Tuesday, the Pistons made their preseaon debut. And one of the young stars that shined for Detroit was the rookie center Jalen Duren. One of the questions facing Duren going into the season was whether or not Duren could play with the pro’s day one. At 18 years old, Jalen is the youngest player not only in his class, but in the entire league. Playing with grown men is not easy, especially when that person doesn’t turn 19 until his second month of NBA action. However, Troy Weaver was confident that Duren was ready to face the pros. And this past Tuesday, Jalen Duren showed that in the initial returns, that very well could be the case.
Pistons found a monster on the glass, and on the defensive end
The first thing that jumps out when Jalen Duren steps on the court, is that he already has an NBA ready frame. At 6’10 and 250 pounds, it was instantly clear the physicality of the game was not going to be where Duren would struggle. In his first nine minutes of action, Duren was able to secure 5 rebounds, and ended up with 14 through 24 minutes. He was attacking the glass all night, and caused the Pistons to win the rebounding battle. A feat made even more impressive by the fact that Detroit’s starting front court of Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Stewart combined for 5 rebounds through the entire night.
Another area that Jalen Duren shined for the Pistons was on the defensive end. Duren finished with one block on the night, but also impressed on multiple occasions with his ability to guard multiple positions. One instance that stood out in particular was when Duren was switched onto Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley in the first quarter. Quickley tried to drive right pass Duren, but didn’t even come close. If Jalen Duren can consistently play this type of defense, he could be one of the best switching bigs in the league. Paried with Isaiah Stewart, would potentially be the most switchable front court in the entire NBA.
Jalen Duren switches on Immanuel Quickley and completely destroys his drive attempts. His mobility was one of the reasons why I was so high on him. pic.twitter.com/NoYAXUaP4B
Jalen Duren’s entrance into the starting lineup feels less like a question, but more like an inevitability. However, when will it happen, and as a result of what? Afterall, with the Pistons looking to compete this season, Duren will have to prove his worth to be inserted in the starting lineup. In order for Jalen Duren to earn that accomplishment, he will have to do so by playing hard on defense, crashing the boards, and with his hustle.
Dwane Casey and Troy Weaver have both compared Duren to Sonics legend Shawn Kemp, and after preseason action and his summer league performances, it’s apparent to see why.It is unclear what Duren’s future will ultimately be, but it is clear the Pistons have a potential All Star talent on their hands. Duren’s physicality and athleticism, matched with his defensive instincts, make him ready for the NBA game.