Detroit — The Pistons’ rookie duo of Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren can check another milestone off their list of NBA accomplishments.
Detroit’s first-year sensations are heading to Salt Lake City during All-Star Weekend to represent the franchise in the 2023 Rising Stars games, the annual showcase of the league’s best talent of first- and second-year players.
Both Ivey and Duren were with the Pistons in Dallas when the Rising Stars selections were revealed. Ivey recently told The Detroit News that his mother, Niele Ivey, took him to the 2020 Rising Stars Challenge when she was an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies.
It’s been a goal of his ever since.
“Definitely a blessing to be able to be invited with a great group of talented guys,” Ivey said. “You dream of playing in these games in All-Star Weekend. I can remember in high school, my mom got tickets to the Rookie Game. Ja (Morant) and Jaren Jackson were in there. I was able to witness that and after that moment, I was like, ‘I want to play in that game.’ Now I have the opportunity. It’s definitely something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I’m looking to get a win, lock in and treat it like a real game.”
Ivey, the No. 5 overall pick, is shouldering the bulk of the Pistons’ point-guard responsibilities this season. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Ivey totaled 13 points, six assists and three steals in Detroit’s 116-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. It was his 15th consecutive game of double-figures in scoring, one game behind Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (16) for the longest such streak by a rookie this season.
Ivey said he’s excited to play alongside the rest of the Rising Stars, especially Duren.
“I get to represent Detroit in a great way,” he said. “Not only me, but Jalen Duren, we get to go out there and compete and represent the Detroit Pistons and the city of Detroit.”
Duren has exceeded expectations this season with his athleticism and rebounding ability. The 19-year-old center is the youngest player in the NBA, but he’s equipped with the physical gifts to become elite at his position. He has 11 double-doubles this season, which is tied with Utah’s Walker Kessler for the most double-doubles by a rookie this season.
“Just happy for the opportunity,” Duren said. “Just happy that people recognize what I’m doing and how much I’m growing and getting better. I was excited.
“As a basketball player, your goal is to make it to the NBA, the first step, but it didn’t stop there. I want to be a champion, an All-Star, all of that. It comes with a lot of work and I’m trying to get there one day.”
Joining Ivey and Duren in the roster pool for the Rising Stars Challenge are Banchero (Magic); AJ Griffin (Hawks); Walker Kessler (Jazz); Bennedict Mathurin (Pacers); Keegan Murray (Kings); Andrew Nembhard (Pacers); Jabari Smith Jr. (Rockets); Jeremy Sochan (Spurs); Jalen Williams (Thunder); Jose Alvarado (Pelicans); Scottie Barnes (Raptors); Josh Giddey (Thunder); Jalen Green (Rockets); Quentin Grimes (Knicks); Bones Hyland (Nuggets); Evan Mobley (Cavaliers); Trey Murphy III (Pelicans); Alperen Sengun (Rockets); and Franz Wagner (Magic).
Pistons coach Dwane Casey applauded both Ivey and Duren for their Rising Stars nods, but acknowledged that both have the potential to become All-Stars one day.
“It’s great. It’s a step,” Casey said. “Their ultimate goal is to be in the big game. We’re one of the teams that have two starters that made it, and it’s a real honor for Jalen and Jaden to make it. It’s just a start. When they go out there, I told them make sure they get the experience. Breathe it, smell it, taste it, because they want to go back and be in the real game someday. Don’t just be satisfied making the Rising Stars. It’s an honor for our organization to have it.”
Celtics at Pistons
Tipoff: 7 Monday, Little Caesars Arena
Outlook: The Pistons (14-40) will host the Celtics on Monday night, the third of four meetings this season. Boston won both meetings in dominating fashion, thanks to Jayson Tatum who tallied 43 points in his last appearance at Little Caesars Arena. The Celtics are coming off 106-94 loss to the Suns on Friday.