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Detroit Pistons’ two-big lineups show promise on offensive glass

Despite a lackluster season across the board, the Detroit Pistons are one of the NBA’s better teams at offensive rebounding

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Dallas Mavericks
Pistons center Jalen Duren attempts to pass out of a swarm of Dallas defenders
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the Detroit Pistons crawl toward the finish line of an ugly season, the team will work to get some of their younger players who are still healthy some crucial minutes to set them up for a more competitive season in 2023-24. That’s the plan, anyway.

You’d like for the team to build on its successes. To make their strengths even stronger. Unfortunately, finding positives to build off of is a challenge for this team. There are bright spots, however. While the Pistons are one of the league’s worst teams offensively, ranking 27th in both points per game and field-goal percentage, they are in the top half of the league when it comes to offensive rebounding.

Detroit averages 10.9 rebounds per game on the offensive end of the floor, which is tied for 11th in the NBA. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Pistons rebound 27.7% of their own misses, which is good for 10th in the league.

Rookie big Jalen Duren leads the team with 3.3 offensive rebounds per game, with Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Stewart following closely behind, with 2.6 and 2.3 offensive rebounds per game, respectively.

The newly acquired James Wiseman is averaging close to two boards on the offensive glass per game this season.

Only Atlanta’s Clint Capela is averaging more rebounds offensively than Duren this season. Duren is tied for second in the NBA in the stat category with Clippers center Ivica Zubac and Toronto’s Jakob Poeltl.

Detroit’s rookie center is in elite company as one of the league’s best rebounders. He totals 8.7 boards per game, which puts him in the top-25 of the entire league, as the NBA’s youngest player.

He rebounds 12.8% of Pistons missed field goals when on the floor, a mark that pushes him toward the top of current NBA bigs.

His positioning and physicality allow for him to be in a good spot to clean up the glass off of his teammate’s misses no matter who is on the opposing end. This helps lead to easy second-chance points.

Here, Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen has his eyes drawn toward the ball, allowing for Duren to beat him for the ball and an easy put-back dunk.

Causing confusion for defenders when rolling has led to a lot of offensive boards for Duren. Specifically, he’s able to beat opposing bigs toward the hoop which then leads to second chance opportunities for the Pistons rookie center and his teammates.

When Duren is on the floor, the Pistons offensive rebounding percentage is 29.5, greater than their team season average of 27.7%, according to Cleaning the Glass. This means that Detroit is pulling down more offensive boards when Duren is on the floor, compared to minutes where he is on the bench.

Looking to one of the Pistons other leading offensive rebounders, Isaiah Stewart, his production is still there, but has taken a bit of a hit since Duren joined the team.

Last season, Stewart averaged 3.2 offensive rebounds per game, which has declined to 2.3 this season, mainly due to the presence of Duren. Stewart is still pulling down 8.1 total boards per game, not declining much from his prior season average of 8.7.

Stewart is still there to take advantage of rebounding opportunities on offense when needed. However, the addition of Duren has taken some of the load off of his shoulders. Last season, Stewart was the leading offensive rebounder for the Pistons.

The newly acquired James Wiseman is showing improvement on the glass since heading over to Detroit. In his first season with Golden State, he averaged 5.8 rebounds per game, declining to 3.5 per game with the Warriors this season in a much more limited role. With Detroit, Wiseman is averaging 8.3 boards per game, including 1.8 of those coming on the offensive end. Those are both high marks in Wiseman’s early career.

Of course, missed shots by other Pistons help contribute to inflated offensive rebounding numbers for the bigs on the floor.

The Pistons are connecting on only 51.6 percent of 2-point field goals, which is tied for worst in the league, and 35 percent on threes. Detroit sees ample opportunities for offensive boards each night, which stronger shooting teams see less of.

I’m not sure if being one of the league’s better offensive rebounding teams is something that the Pistons want to hang their hat on in the future, due to the shooting inefficiency which it implies. But, having elite rebounders leads to scoring, especially on the offensive glass.

Detroit is averaging 14.8 second chance points per game this season, which is good for a top-10 mark in the NBA for the category.

The plan is for the Pistons shooting splits to steadily increase in years to come. However, when the inevitable misses come along, and some of the stronger shooters on the team have off-nights from the field, elite offensive rebounding will help find scoring when the team needs it most.

Duren is already an elite offensive rebounder as a rookie. He’ll continue to have help down low from Stewart, Wiseman and Bagley as the big-focused lineups work for second chance points.