Pistons rookie Duren earns reputation as one of NBA’s best rebounders

Detroit News

Detroit — Jalen Duren is quickly earning a reputation as one of the best rebounders in the NBA.

The 19-year-old rookie is averaging 14.6 rebounds per game since entering the Pistons’ starting lineup, and he had his most impressive performance on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Hornets.

In a career-high 36 minutes, Duren dominated the Hornets on the glass, pulling down a career-best 19 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. He is the third-youngest player in NBA history with at least 18 rebounds in a game.

Duren also added seven points and three blocks, including a clutch rejection on Terry Rozier in overtime with 29 seconds left in the game.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey was impressed with Duren’s ability to command the boards at such a high level.

“Big time. For a rookie to get 19 rebounds was huge,” Casey said after Thursday’s practice. “For him to go in there and battle, they were doing him the way we were trying to do (Mason) Plumlee: is get two bodies on him, what we call sandwiched. He was still going up in traffic and getting them, which was really important. I was really impressed with that.”

Duren leads all rookies in rebounding with 7.7 per game. He ranks seventh in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage (14.3%).

His insertion into the starting lineup has provided more opportunities for Isaiah Stewart to thrive on the perimeter.

“It’s been fun working with him,” Stewart said. “He’s a very talented player and we work with each other before and after practice pretty much every day. We’ll continue to grow as a duo.

“I don’t think we have a ceiling. Offensively and defensively, I think the sky’s the limit for us.”

Casey also pointed out Duren’s ability to be an effective screener, which doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.

“The other part of his game which is under noticed is his screening,” Casey said. “He’s one of our best screeners. It’s usually a guard’s fault by taking off too soon when he sets an illegal screen. He’s gotta learn to tell a guy to wait or be like Gary Payton and cuss them out (laughs). Those things are really unseen little nuances that he’s picked up as a rookie. He’s done an excellent job of that and he’s just gotta continue to grow.”

In just a couple of months into his rookie season, Duren is establishing himself as a dominant presence on the glass and he’s bound to improve once he develops a more polished offensive game.

Isaiah Stewart, the power forward

Isaiah Stewart caught the ball at the top of the key and muscled his way inside the paint before throwing down a poster dunk over Hornets center Nick Richards.

It was the latest example of Stewart’s transition as a perimeter player who can not only knock down open 3-point shots, but put the ball on the floor and create scoring opportunities at the basket.

Stewart is averaging 12 points and 8.7 rebounds per game this season. The most impressive stat is his 37% shooting clip from the 3-point line on 4.2 attempts.

“It’s pretty much my first time having this kind of freedom to either shoot or drive the ball,” Stewart said.

Stewart said he isn’t surprised by his efficient shooting because she he shot at a similar clip during his offseason workouts.

Casey also acknowledged the steps Stewart has taken in his transition from the center position to the power forward spot.

“He’s done a good job of adjusting, taking the right 3-point shots, attacking off the dribble,” Casey said. ”He did a good job with that last night.”

Kings at Pistons

Tipoff: 7 Friday, Little Caesars Arena

TV/radio: BSD/97.1

Outlook: The Pistons and Kings will meet for the second time this season when Sacramento visits Little Caesars Arena on Friday. The Kings (15-12) are coming off a 124-123 win over the Toronto Raptors. De’Aaron Fox scored 33 points to lead the Kings to a 137-129 win over the Pistons on Nov. 20.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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