Pistons notes: Hampton caught in ‘numbers game’ in Orlando; Duren out vs. Raptors

Detroit News

Detroit — RJ Hampton stood outside the Pistons’ locker room in the aftermath of Thursday’s heartbreaking loss to the Orlando Magic.

Moments later, it was announced that the former Magic guard was officially joining the team.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey commented on Hampton’s signing for the first time after Friday’s practice, ahead of Saturday’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

“He’s athletic,” Casey said. “He’s long for a guard. I think his challenge will be to see if he can be a point guard, 2-1, 1-2, and that would be his growth process because he’s going to be on the same timeline as our young guys. He’s a young guy coming in trying to figure it out, but he’s a very talented young man.

“He just got caught in a numbers game and not having the opportunity in Orlando. Another guy like Wiseman, who’s going to have an opportunity to play.”

Hampton, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 5.7 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 13.9 minutes through 26 games with Orlando this season. Overall, Hampton played 116 games (15 starts) over three seasons with the Magic, averaging 8.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 20.8 minutes.

Hampton joins Cade Cunningham as the second Dallas native on the Pistons. They have a pre-existing relationship dating back to their childhood. He holds career NBA averages of 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.6 steals in 141 games (15 starts) over three NBA seasons with Denver and Orlando.

He was drafted 24th overall by Milwaukee in the 2020 NBA Draft before being traded to Denver on draft night. Prior to the NBA, Hampton played one season for the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League. Casey said the Pistons met Hampton in Memphis to evaluate him ahead of the 2020 draft.

“We worked him out in Memphis,” Casey said. “I reminded him of that when I saw him last night. He had a good workout. His speed, he worked hard, loves to play. Gym rat. Cade has known him all his life. They grew up together. We have a good feel of his past, now we have to say, ‘OK, which way are we going now?’ ”

Injury updates

Pistons rookie Jalen Duren will not play on Saturday against the Raptors due to bilateral ankle soreness. The 19-year-old center appeared limited in his mobility and totaled just two points and eight rebounds in Thursday’s loss to the Magic.

After the game, Pistons coach Dwane Casey revealed that Duren was still laboring from his lingering ankle injuries suffered over the past two weeks.

“He’s still gimpy from that ankle,” Casey said. “I thought that impacted his rebounding ability and ability to play inside. I know one play where he was set up for a roll down bucket and he just barely got off the ground. He didn’t have that lift in his jump and they blocked his shot. Normally, he would go up and dunk that. I don’t think he was 100%.”

Duren’s unavailability would normally spell trouble for the Pistons, but the timing lines up with the return of Marvin Bagley III, who was listed as probable for Saturday’s game. He’s missed the last 20 games due to metacarpal fractures in his right hand, which required surgery.

Bagley’s first full season in Detroit has been hindered by the injury bug, but he will have an opportunity to make an impact in the final stretch of the regular season. He’s averaging 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

James Wiseman, who is averaging 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds since joining the Pistons after the trade deadline, is also likely to receive an increased role against the Raptors.


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

Raptors at Pistons

Tipoff: 12 Saturday, Little Caesars Arena

TV/radio: BSD/97.1

Outlook: The Raptors enter Saturday’s game winners of their last two games against the Pistons after losing six consecutive meetings before that. Bojan Bogdanovic (33 points [10-18 FG, 3-8 3FG, 10-11 FT]) and Fred VanVleet (35 points [12-26 FG, 6-13 3FG, 5-7 FT]) both eclipsed the 30-point mark in Toronto’s one-point win on Feb. 12. Jaden Ivey, who’s coming off 25 points and five 3-pointers against the Magic, has averaged 19.5 points, 7.5 assists and three rebounds against Toronto.

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