The Pistons came out the gate firing on Saturday afternoon on the heels of Jaden Ivey. The dynamic guard came out the gate with 11 points in 5 minutes of action, as well as 2 assists. Suddenly, however, Ivey went up for a three and landed on the feet of Isaiah Todd. Jaden went on to sprain his right ankle. And after taking his three free throws, would not return to the game. His fellow starting mate in the back court Saben Lee injured his ankle in the second half as well, adding to Detroit‘s woes. However, the Pistons held on and won 105-99, despite being outscored in the second half 62-46.
Detroit’s win was lead by Isaiah Livers, Jalen Duren, and Isaiah Stewart. Livers lead the way on the offensive end, finishing with 20 points and shooting 4-5 from beyond the arc. The former Wolverine has made his presence felt on both ends of the court, and has showcased the value he can bring to the Pistons. His versatility on defense, and even his showcased improvement handling the ball make you wonder if he could even start. Livers, who was a second round pick in last year’s draft, showcasing why he was highly coveted by Troy Weaver and the front office last season.
Pistons future front court shines in Las Vegas
Through two summer league games, one thing is clear: the Pistons want Duren and Stewart to play together. And this game gave some glimpses as to what Detroit sees in the pairing. Both bigs play with athleticism and furosity, and do everything they can to protect the paint. In additon, between Duren’s length, and Stewart’s versatility, they can be dangerous on both ends. In an interview with The Athletic, Stewart sited that he was watching film on Al Horford from the Boston Celtics. Specifically, his ability to be a big on the perimiter as well as the interior. And Stewart’s goal this summer league has been to get those reps in that type of role. On Saturday afternoon, Isaiah Stewart played the role well.
The third year big man finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds, as well as 3 assists and shot 2-5 from beyond the arc. For the second game in a row, Stewart scored the go-ahead bucket that put Detroit out of reach. Although this isn’t a role he finds himself playing much in the regular season, Isaiah looked cool calm and collected. If this was his final game for the summer league, it was a strong showing out of Stewart. Speaking of strong, Jalen Duren looked physically dominant. He imposed his will above the rim, and finished with multiple emphatic dunks. Another skill Duren was able to showcase was his passing, finishing with 3 assists on the night. He has showcased his ability to find teammates cutting to the basket, and has great vision for an 18 year old rookie. One thing the duo will need to work on is foul trouble. Stewart and Duren combined for 13 fouls (which you can’t do in the regular season).
An injury ridden afternoon couldn’t end soon enough for Detroit
Although the Pistons had an explosive first half lead by Jaden Ivey, the game was never an easy one for Detroit. Despite leading by as much as 27 points, the Wizards brought it to within 1 point. However, Washington could never get over the hump. And in addition to a physical Washington team that wouldn’t give in, Detroit couldn’t ignore the injury bug. Ivey and Lee both sprained their ankles, and Duren even had a fall in the final minutes that looked ugly. He would stay in the game after being checked by medical staff, but was periodically wincing down the stretch.
All in all another good showing from Detroit’s summer league roster. Both Ivey and Duren continue to impress, and key second/third year players have showcased the ways they are growing their game. The Pistons will play Bennedict Mathurin and the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday evening, and whether Ivey will play or not remains to be seen. However, whether he does or not, it wil be an opportunity for the rest of the roster to make the most of these reps.