LAS VEGAS – Jalen Duren got the party started, and Jaden Ivey sealed the deal as the Detroit Pistons defeated the Portland Trailblazers, 81-78, in the 2022 NBA 2K23 Summer League Midnight Madness at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The opening possession for the Pistons showed flashes of showtime, as No. 5 pick Ivey tossed an alley-oop to No. 13 pick Duren for the first assist and slam of their young careers.
Duren started the game swinging on the rim as he went 3-3 with three dunks for six quick, loud points to give those who stayed up after hours a taste of the future.
The 6′11 center (7′5 wing span) had already been drawing comparisons from head coach Dwane Casey to Seattle Supersonics high-flyer Shawn Kemp.
After his quick bounce in the first quarter, if you asked the rim, it’ll tell you there’s no difference between the two, especially regarding power.
“So, his athleticism, his explosion, he can go from zero to 100 just like that,” said Casey. “Just the nuances of the game and understanding the game but his explosion compared to Shawn, I started recruiting Shawn since he was in the ninth grade. He (Kemp) was a little bit of a better shooter at the same stage, but both have the same explosion, and Duren is a great kid. This morning was the first time he was able to practice because the trade didn’t go through until last night. He was working on his own by running back and forth because he couldn’t practice. So just for him to get out there and play is a testament, but like any young player, there’s a lot to learn about this game.”
Duren took a break from the action during Casey’s synopsis, but once he was reinserted into the game, he forced a quick turnover and assisted on an outlet pass to Braxton Key for the easy bucket.
He then followed that up with a demonstrative block, sending the ball into the stands, which earned another reaction throughout the arena.
Duren came back down on the defensive end of the floor and overshadowed his first block as he caught the Trailblazers offensive players shot off the backboard before heading into halftime.
Duren finished the game with nine points, two blocks, one assist, and one rebound, but he left his mark early.
Jaden Ivey bounces back after slow start
Ivey led the team with 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists while playing a whopping 32 minutes in the victory. But his slow start was noticeable, as he finished with five turnovers in his NBA debut.
Casey spoke on Ivey’s start.
“Well, Jaden is doing a good job of getting to where he wants to with his speed,” Casey said. “Like all young guys, he has to continue to learn what to do with it, how to slow down, how to change speed, and to continue working on his three-point shot. Defensively, he still has to get into the ball, but all of those things are little things that are teachable. One thing we can’t teach is the speed and quickness that he plays with, and that’s a weapon.”
Ivey’s start was jittery, as he missed badly on a couple of three-point shots, but Casey said Father Time is the only way to fix his pace on the court as he was moving extremely fast in his debut.
“Father Time,” Casey said. “Time is on his side. The more reps he gets, the more game situations he has -- the game will slow down like it has for all young players. The older they get, the slower the game becomes.”
Ivey had 8 points and two assists but three fouls before the half, one of which came on a questionable call after hitting a quick three.
Pistons challenge was unsuccessful after Ivey hit a deep three but was called for an offensive foul. So the foul will be charged to the rookie, he has three fouls before the half.— Imanni Wright (@ImanniWright) July 8, 2022
Ivey’s mother spoke about her son’s journey and how proud he was to follow his dreams.
“I’m just excited to be here,” said Niele Ivey. “I wanted to make sure I was at his first game. Such a proud moment for me to see him on this court. It’s something that he’s dreamed of, something that he’s worked so hard for to accomplish, and it’s a blessing to be here.”
She spoke about his presence of being around the game since he was a kid while she coached at Notre Dame and how it helped him throughout his journey so far.
“He’s been through the whole process for me as an assistant coach,” Niele Ivey said. “He’s been inspired by our strong women at Notre Dame. His first role model was Skylar Diggins. Jackie Young came out to support him tonight. So he’s learned the game from women, and I’m so excited for him.”
Ivey made key plays down the stretch to help the Pistons seal the deal in a nail-biter, but the young guys showed flashes of why they can be great in this league.
The Pistons will look to keep their winning ways rolling, as they will face off against the Washington Wizards Saturday (July 9) at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
What would you like to see in game two from the young guys? Do you think the Pistons can win the Summer League championship?