His calling card is his intensity, and he continues to bring it every single game. Stewart always runs the floor, sets hard screens, and attacks the offensive glass with vigor. He leads all rookies in offensive rebounding percentage, and, in fact, he is having one of the best offensive rebounding rookie campaigns of all time.
What we have started to see recently, though, is Stewart finally scoring some baskets. After scuffling through a 3-of-15 stretch, Stewart has scored eight points each of the past two games on 5-of-7 shooting.
Against the Warriors, he was able to use some of his quality defense to lead into some transition offense. Good Trouble caused some typical havoc and was rewarded on the offensive end. It’s great to see.
A quality contest against the longer, more athletic James Wiseman forced him into a difficult shot. Stewart defended, fought for the rebound, ran the floor and was rewarded with the free lane to the basket.
The shot volume may be small, but both his baskets against the Utah Jazz showed some intriguing promise.
In his first basket, Stewart was alert on offense and corraled the blocked Saddiq Bey shot. Most importantly, though, he showed the kind of touch we see from him at the free-throw line in some actual game action. He takes the ball and from the no man’s land area about 8 feet from the basket, and immediately puts the ball back up. He’s smart enough to know he doesn’t want to give Rudy Gobert a chance at a second block on the same trip down the floor, so he doesn’t gather or bring the ball down. It’s a pseudo floater/jump shot with the delicate touch needed to actually have it go smoothly through the basket.
On his second basket, Stewart is the recipient of the ever-evolving Jerami Grant creation game. Here, Grant drives and garners the attention of three Jazz defenders, including a weak-side Gobert. Stewart finds the gap between Gobert and the sagging Josh Jackson defender with hands ready. Grant finds him and despite being draped by Jazz defenders, Stewart hits the layup thanks again to his soft touch.
After a hot start, Bey has cooled off considerably and is struggling to find his footing in Detroit’s rotation. Over his past 10 games, Bey is shooting just 29% from the floor and 20% from 3.
Bey looked completely lost against Golden State, but he looked more like his early-season self against the Jazz. Bey helped power the run in the third and fourth quarters that saw Detroit cut a 27-point deficit down to four. He played 11 minutes and hit just his second three in his past five games and fifth in his past 31 attempts.
As Wayne Ellington inevitable falls from his metoric 3-point shooting heights, it’d be nice to see Bey and third-year player Svi Mykhailiuk start to regain their shooting forms.
Saben Lee & Killian Hayes
Lee has been inactive with veterans Delon Wright and Derrick Rose getting the bulk of the point-guard minutes. Hayes, meanwhile, remains out rehabbing his injured hip. So all we can do is endlessly litigate the seven-game career of a 19-year-old rookie, which is an incredibly healthy thing to do.
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