Isaiah Stewart’s ‘Ben Wallace-type’ rebounding for Pistons stands out in career game

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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When it comes to his ability to rebound, coach Dwane Casey hasn’t shied away from comparing Isaiah Stewart to some of the great big men of Detroit Pistons’ past.

Two weeks ago, he called Stewart a “Dennis Rodman-type.” On Saturday in Miami, he used a more recent comparison. 

“He just has a knack for rebounding,” Casey said after the Pistons defeated the Miami Heat, 120-100. “I say that someday he can be like a Ben Wallace-type rebounder and I still stick with that.” 

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Stewart only has 10 games under his belt, but he’s already projecting as an above average rebounder, grabbing 9.4 offensive rebounds per 100 possessions — the highest rate in the NBA among rotation players. Overall, he’s grabbing 16.4 rebounds per 100 possessions, 40th overall in the league and tied with Domantas Sabonis

His knack for getting to the ball was on display against the Heat. He had his first career double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds (seven offensive) in 19 minutes off of the bench. Those were both career highs for him. 

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After not appearing in Detroit’s first two games, Stewart has now played at least 14 minutes in all but one of his 10 games. And he had his best overall performance in the Pistons’ most dominant win of the season. 

Stewart has quick hands and feet, and has little issue maneuvering around opposing players near the rim. If needed, he doesn’t hesitate to get physical and throw his body around. There was a stretch midway through the fourth quarter where Stewart nabbed three offensive rebounds in six seconds, outmaneuvering Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic under the rim. 

“It’s impressive,” Casey said. “He’s got a quick motor, you don’t have to say ‘giddy up’ to him, which is great for a rookie. It just takes a couple of guys to keep him off the boards and your teammate can get the rebound. He creates space legally, that’s something I think officials are getting used to him is him creating space under the basket legally with his lower body.”

One downside to Stewart’s performance was his fouls. He picked up six in 19 minutes, and fouled out with 1:04 to play. Had he not picked up his fifth foul midway through the fourth and had to briefly sit for Mason Plumlee, it’s possible Casey would’ve let him finish the quarter uninterrupted. 

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Even so, Stewart appears to be solidifying his place in the rotation. Casey had been playing all three of his big men — Plumlee, Stewart and Jahlil Okafor — but stuck with Plumlee and Stewart on Saturday. It was Okafor’s first “Did Not Play” of the season unrelated to an injury. 

Casey isn’t concerned about the fouls, for now. He said Stewart will have to learn to avoid rip-through fouls and be more mindful of sticking his hands out. Casey also pointed out rookie forward Saddiq Bey, who had two fouls in 11 minutes, has to learn how to avoid unnecessary fouls. 

“All these things are new, they’re going to grow,” Casey said. “They’re nowhere close to being a finished product and it’s just going to take them some time. Summer league is going to be huge, I’m going to say that again. These guys have a lot of room for growth and we’ll grow. I think the city of Detroit and the fans will enjoy seeing them grow.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.


Pistons GM Troy Weaver on Jerami Grant’s ascension, emptying the clip

Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver on ‘Core Four’ rookie class, Jerami Grant’s ascension, Killian Hayes’ injury and emptying the clip, Jan. 14, 2021.

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