Jack summarizes the Pistons performance using a template that embraces Detroit’s 313 identity. The formula is simple; 3 Things to like, 1 Thing not to like and 3 Things to monitor.
Detroit hoops were back on the menu Saturday night in Las Vegas following a nearly three-month hiatus since the conclusion of the regular season in April.
Coach Jarrett Jack fielded a starting group consisting of three potential starters come opening night Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Ausar Thompson. Rookie guard, Marcus Sasser and fourth-year big man, James Wiseman rounded out the starting group for the Motor City.
In what could be described as a rusty offensive performance, Detroit’s dominance on the glass and interior ultimately powered them to a double-digit victory over Orlando.
The Twin Tower duo of Wiseman and Duren were particularly impressive, combining for a dominant 33 points, 19 rebounds and 5 blocks on the evening. Wiseman was the game’s best player through the first three quarters and Duren put his summer work on show for all to see, draining three jumpers. One of which came off a corner three-point look.
There were plenty of encouraging moments to take away from last night’s game, in what was one of the better 2023 Summer Leagues viewing experiences.
Check out my 313 Thoughts below.
3 Things to Like
LIKE: Jalen Duren trying new things and it’s working?
In a shade under 30 minutes, Jalen Duren took a career-high five jumpers against the Magic last night. He made three, including a corner three-point shot which tried its best to pop out of the rim.
Duren’s performance was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Duren was his usual self, hauling in offensive rebounds and drawing free throws off put-back attempts.
On the flip side, it was evident the 19-year-old was intent on showing his improved ball-handling ability. Duren had several brute-like drives to the basket. He drew free throws on a beeline toward the rim, but a couple of his dribble possessions resulted in an unforced turnover.
In the second half, the teenager had a trio of baskets which came as a result of fluid dribble moves:
Jalen Duren put together a super fun performance last night:
17 PTS | 8 REB | 5-8 FG | 1 3PM
Cool to see him drain a corner trey & score via an array of dribble combos: pic.twitter.com/v2hL9jBWJT
— Jack Kelly (@jack_kelly_313) July 9, 2023
Mid-way through the fourth Duren assembled a personal 6-0 run, knocking down a pair of 17-footers in the process.
When asked in the postgame how long he has been working on his perimeter jump shot, Duren responded: “Ah man…since about April.”
Now, as encouraging as the shooting flashes were, I think it’s wise to assume these possessions will be few and far between during the regular season. Duren could very well make these creation attempts a staple of his game in time, but it’s hard to see Coach Monty Williams employing a steady diet of Duren pull-ups in an offense featuring Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, etc…
Overall, a solid and encouraging night for Detroits center of the future.
LIKE: Ausar Thompson filling the gaps
Rookie Ausar Thompson played exactly how rookie Ausar Thompson will play most nights during his debut season in the NBA.
He’s going to play astute defense, orchestrate in transition, attack close-outs and chip in on the defensive glass. Essentially, he’s a versatile piece that’s going to plug any holes at each end of the floor.
Detroits fifth overall selection in last month’s NBA Draft concluded his first night of NBA action tallying 7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks. The 20-year-old stuffed the stat sheet in a relatively quiet fashion.
Thompson was at his best in transition, with each of his three assists generated via the fastbreaks where he zipped one-handed passes to his open teammates:
Having a pass-first 6-foot-6 gazelle in the open court is a godsend for a Detroit team that has struggled to cash in on transition baskets in the prior years.
Thompson also impressed with his support on the glass, hauling in nine defensive rebounds against the Magic. With under a minute to play, Thompson soared above his 7-foot teammates—Jalen Duren & James Wiseman—to grab an important rebound which played a key role in Detroit sealing the victory.
Thompson didn’t attempt a three-pointer on the night and only attempts four field goals total. Some of this was a result of lacklustre guard play however, Thompson could also do a better job asserting himself in the half-court offense.
LIKE: Wiseman playing to his size
Coming into Saturday night I was primarily focused on the approach James Wiseman would take into his second Summer League stint. I wanted to see the 22-year-old assert himself as a physical presence. Make the Magic feel him in the painted area.
It took only three minutes for Wiseman to stamp his authority on the defensive end. With 7:12 to play in the first quarter, Orlando forward Jett Howard drove to the basket where he was emphatically denied by the 7-foot-1 Wiseman:
Throughout the first three-quarters, Wiseman was by far Detroits best player. He blocked shots, hustled for rebounds and was a menace in the painted area. The former second-overall selection finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks and a team-high +20 in the plus-minus category.
1 Thing to Dislike
DISLIKE: Lack of pure point guard play
Detroits lack of playmaking in the half-court was a problem for the majority of the game. The Pistons coughed up 24 total turnovers on the night, 12 of which came via sophomore duo, Jaden Ivey (6) and Jalen Duren (6).
Ivey in particular struggled to keep his head above water on offense. The second-year guard misfired a pair of regulation lob passes to Duren and had multiple miscues with ball-in-hand when trying to create in isolation. At times it looked like Ivey was trying to force the issue, barrelling into opponents with not much of a plan.
The two-big line-up was also conducive to stagnant offense. Whilst Duren and Wiseman each had solid individual outings, their sheer mass on the interior often resulted in awkward and clunky offensive possessions.
Without a true point guard on the roster, Detroit will need to rely upon their outside shooting, transition opportunities and second-chance points to register a winning score.
3 Things to Monitor
MONITOR: Marcus Sasser’s pure jump shot
Cade Cunningham holds claim to the Pistons most fluid pull-up jump shot, but Marcus Sasser is right on the franchise player’s heels.
If you watched five minutes of Sasser at Houston last season, you know he has one of the prettiest strokes in this year’s draft pool. Combine that with his shifty, tight handle and you have a deadly dribble-shooting threat:
Sasser finished with only two three-point makes on six attempts, but it felt like only one of his attempts wasn’t on track for success.
Sasser, like his rookie counterpart, is another player who could have benefited from playing alongside a pass-first decision-maker.
Nonetheless, a solid 10-point debut from the 2023 ACC Player of the Year.
MONITOR: Jaden Ivey’s defensive intensity
Ivey might have registered a dud on the offensive side of the ball, but he expressed a renewed focus on defense against Orlando.
He was still prone to some lapses on defensive, but Ivey’s game-high five steals were a reflection of his activity and desire to disrupt his opponent.
As a rookie, Ivey struggled to keep up with opposing offense’s both on the ball and off of it. Tonight was a solid starting point for Ivey to build upon as an NBA-level defender.
If the 21-year-old is to suit up for more Summer League action, this is an area to keep an eye on.
MONITOR: Malcolm Cazalon
The 6-foot-6 Cazalon is the most recent French player to sign with the Pistons. The 21-year-old wing inked a two-way contract with Detroit back in May.
In 15 minutes of action last night, Cazalon flashed his potential as a disruptor at the wing position. Per Synergy Sports, Magic opponents converted only one of four attempts when guarded by the Frenchmen.
Cazalon did an excellent job of ‘getting skinny’ when navigating opposing screens and trailing his opponent just enough to get back into the play and disrupt the possession:
Cazalon wasn’t shy offensively. All eight of his attempts came from beyond the arc, with the spry wing knocking down only two threes.
In four seasons of European play, Cazalon has converted 34% of his three-point looks. Not a bad percentage, but a number he will need to improve to warrant real NBA minutes.
Cazalon should get some extended run toward the end of Detroits time in Las Vegas a player to keep an eye on as the schedule progresses.
Detroit plays for the second time in consecutive days, suiting up against the Houston Rockets tonight from 6:00 p.m. ET.
For a full video recap of last night’s game, check out the DBB Live Postgame Recap over at the Detroit Bad Boys YouTube channel.
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