Could Detroit take one of the top centers?

People watch the draft lottery after the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals are in full swing and the NBA Draft is upon us, with draft night just over two weeks away. The Detroit Pistons will pick 5th overall after losing two spots in the lottery.

As fans continue to bicker over who the Pistons should pick, a number of names have been mentioned as potential players, and the list only grows when the possibility of Portland trading the seventh pick for Jerami Grant is mentioned.

One of the most intriguing prospects is Memphis center Jalen Duren, who has been drafted after a successful freshman season.

While Duren likely won’t be a top-five pick, he could certainly be an option at seven if Detroit acquired Portland’s pick or if another trade happened later in the lottery.

Here’s a look at Duren’s strengths and weaknesses and how he could potentially fit into Detroit’s roster.

Pistons Draft: Jalen Duren’s strengths

Considered by many to be the second best center behind Chet Holmgren in the 2022 NBA Draft, Duren is an incredible athlete with excellent height and length. At 6’11, 250 pounds and a whopping 7’5 wingspan, Duren possesses some of the best physical tools of this year’s prospect. At Memphis, Duren was a dominant Paint presence, displaying his power through rebounds, shot blocking and running the entire length of the floor along with every other big man in college basketball.

Last season, the big man averaged 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, also averaging 12 points a night. Duren’s non-stop engine coupled with his advanced timing made him one of the most compelling candidates for this year’s draft. With such gifted physical traits and a willingness to use them at such a young age, Duren projects himself as an elite rim runner in today’s game and an energetic post presence with a penchant for blocking shots, creating second chance opportunities in the offensive surrendered. and rebound at both ends of the ground at high speed.

While his game isn’t as flashy as his peers, Duren’s role at Memphis was geared toward the same duties that many scouts, executives, and GMs covet in today’s big men.

Centers in the NBA who guard the perimeter, protect the paint and can give their team additional opportunities through rebounds are in high demand.

For evidence of this, look no further than the Boston Celtics’ Robert Williams, who has become the anchor of Boston’s steadfast defense. While Williams may not be an offensive option for the Celtics, his impact on the floor this postseason extends well beyond the realms of statistics.

William’s ability to defend, rebound, set screens and protect the rim at all costs has reinvigorated Boston’s defense, which ranks second in defensive standings in this year’s playoffs. In his only year in Memphis, Duren’s game embodied many of those qualities, and at only eighteen it’s safe to say he hasn’t scratched the surface of his potential.

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