They Detroit franchise has been enduring a roster reconstruction for quite some time now, as they’ve fallen out of relevancy in the NBA for the past decade and have tried to build their way back to the top through the development of rising talent. After last night’s debut against Miami, it seems this might be season in which the Pistons’ young core will step up.
One of those players we can’t keep our eyes off of is sophomore Jalen Duren, the team’s starting center. The No. 13 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft is still only 19-years of age, and made history in this Wednesday’s season opener.
“Cade (Cunningham) back the storyline for Detroit but Jalen Duren youngest player ever to get at least 17 points, 14 boards, 4 assists, 4 blocks in a game. Versus Bam (Adebayo) tonight. Still 19 years old.” celebrated reporter Jonathan Wasserman, despite the Pistons losing 103-102 to the Heat.
Jalen Duren vs Miami Heat
— A Walking Highlight (@11AWH) October 26, 2023
The young big man appeared in 67 games in his rookie season, starting 31 of them, averaging 9.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.9 blocks in 24.9 minutes per match. However, as a starter he’s averaged a double-double with nearly one block per game.
Before the start of the season, coach Monty Williams organized his starting lineup this week and explained each of his player’s role. “Jalen [Duren] is a guy that’s gonna be able to play the (center) spot and the (power-forward) spot,” the trainer shared.
As for the rest of the rising-star-packed starters, Williams is convinced their versatility will prove vital throughout the campaign, as most of them play well with and off the ball.
“Cade [Cunningham] can play with the ball and off the ball. (Ivey) can play with the ball and off the ball. Ausar (Thompson) can play with the ball more,” Monty assured. “From that standpoint, we’ll figure out once we start to play and look at rotations, combinations and see which guys work best with which. That’s a combination of what we know and upstairs with analytics.”
Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. caused a strong impression on his coach and star teammates after his 13-minute debut
Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami’s new 22-year-old rookie, made all three of his field-goal shots and added two rebounds, two assists and two steals while playing a bit over 13 minutes against the Pistons. His debut caused a strong impression on his coaching staff.
“He has an ‘it’ quality,” said Erik Spoelstra. “You can see his footwork. You can see his poise and skill-level all the way across the board. It’s hard not to be encouraged by it.”
The stats of his debut might not be outstanding, but he certainly impressed his teammates. “He got some go, that’s for sure. He gets right to it in the mid-post, takes the right shots, kicks the ball out,” star Jimmy Butler stated. “This might be his rookie year but he’s played basketball in a winning manner for so long.”
As for Bam Adebayo, he’s convinced that Jaquez Jr. is no ordinary first-year player. “Jaime is not a regular rookie. Me and Tyler came in here at 19, one year of college, and had to figure out. He came in here ready,” the big man said.