Each pass recently thrown by Jaden Ivey seemed to find Jalen Duren’s hand before being dunked hard through the basket.
Whether the ball is going up, down, or through the crowd, both Pistons rookies were recently named participants in the Rising Star event at All-Star Weekend, and as the season progresses. It seems more and more connected. Their growing chemistry has led to easy buckets that can be hard to come by in Detroit.
Ivey has provided 27 assists in his last 4 matches, 12 (44%) of which have come from Duren. The rookie ball-handler has evolved as a playmaker in recent weeks. He’s getting more requests, so naturally he has more opportunities to interact with Duren.
But there is something about their partnership that cannot be quantified.
“They worked through the situation and worked together after practice,” Detroit head coach Dwayne Casey said of Ivy and Durren. “They’ve been trying to get each other into rhythm, feel each other, figure out where each other is going as far as pocket passes are concerned. Moved to unit, Cade (Cunningham) out, Corey (Joseph) out, (Ivy) last standing.
“He does an excellent job of reading and making simple plays, easy, obvious passes. He’s learning how to be a point guard. It wasn’t a point guard, and this is where it’s hard to learn how to play the point guard position.”
This first clip summarizes the progress both have made, and is arguably the best example of how much they’ve both come together when it comes to being patient and manipulating their defenses in unison.
No need to rush. Everything is perfectly timed. The most impressive thing is that after receiving the screen from Duren, Ivy here he is using three different gears. Ivey’s biggest offensive problem this season has been playing at a very high speed. On this play, it’s clear he’s starting to figure out how to diversify his pace. Ivey starts sprinting to create his first space, slowing down to give the impression of passing. He then does a crab dribble to allow Duren to run. Two months ago, Ivey might not have been able to make this play under such control.
As for Duren, his patience is tremendous here as well. After setting the screen, he takes his time making his way to the rim. It’s not until he sees both defenders Detroit put into pick-and-roll action locked on Ivy that he sprints to the basket. Durren had the ball in the early minutes.
Now the play is designed for Düren backcutting after setting up a screen for Bojan Bogdanovic. It’s not impromptu. It also gives Ivey two options in one. He can either play it safe and pass it to Bogdanović or trust Duren to have the ball ready when he cuts.
Both Ivey and Duren read the defense perfectly. The video he freezes at 2 seconds and you can see that Ivey already knows where to go with the ball. Pistons Wing’s Alec Burks empties into the opposite corner to ensure none of the Nets are in a hugely helpful position around the basket. provides all the space you need. Very good play design.
Ivey is not afraid that Duren is not ready to receive the pass. He knows Duren sees what he sees. Ivy prepares to throw the ball before Duren actually completes the screen. Duren turns her head quickly after making contact with the screen, making clean catches with perfect strides and easy layups.
This final clip is all about trust between two rookies who will likely give the Pistons an All-Rookie selection for the third year in a row.
First of all, kudos to Ivey for keeping his dribble alive despite some awkward defensive pressure from the backs. He could have easily picked up the dribble. Instead, keeping it alive allows him to give himself a better angle to complete a subtly difficult pass, and Ivey makes sure Brook Lopez has his head turned But after Rolling he must trust Duren to seal Drue Holiday.
Durren not only does a great job of cutting off the road to Holliday’s Pass, but he makes himself available to Ivy. The former immediately raises both hands and demands the ball as he steps into the paint.
Duren trusts Ivey to deliver, and Ivey trusts Duren to make the catch despite minimal space. Both have played important roles for the Pistons, and for three straight seasons he has had at least one All-Rookie selection, and there are likely multiple such picks for his second in that span. (2020-21 with Sadiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart).
Trust goes a long way, and the trust Ivey and Duren have shown in each other has seen both develop significantly in recent weeks.
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(Photo by Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey: Nic Antaya / Getty Images)