Jalen Duren exploded on the scholastic scene in 2018 as a big, powerful young man who possessed an NBA center’s frame at 14 years of age. Duren was dominant from Day 1 in the highly regarded Roman Catholic program. He was truly fun to watch during the two years he spent at Broad & Vine. Time flies… Fast forward four years and now, Duren is all set to enter the NBA as a lottery pick.
Duren, still just 18 has declared for the 2022 NBA Draft and projects as a likely lottery pick with top 6-8 potential. So… How will he do against the big boys? Will he be a dominant NBA player? Will he be an all-star? Will he start right away? How does his game translate to today’s NBA?
At this point in his development, Duren doesn’t possess the offensive repertoire of a prospect like Gonzaga’s highly skilled Chet Holmgren. But… Duren is only 18 years old, 1.5 years younger than Holmgren and has ample time to refine and extend his offensive skill-set.
As it stands, his game on the offensive end consists primarily of banging it on opponents… with extreme force. Duren’s dunks reverberate throughout arenas unlike those of other players. Duren’s dunks hurt your feelings… They call the opponents manhood into question… They make opposing bigs wonder if it worth the effort require to attempt a block.
As early as the 9th grade, Duren was an imposing physical force who was too much to handle for most high school bigs. By the 10th grade, it was clear that he was a man amongst boys. With relative ease, Duren was able to cleanly and forcefully dunk everything around the rim. On the other end of the floor, he literally put a fence around the rim and rejected countless attempts to attack the basket.
For the 11th grade, Duren decided to challenge himself by playing at Montverde. Same shit… different gym… Playing and practicing against the finest high school players everyday, he continued to stand out. He continued to dunk everything around the basket. Possessing extremely long arms and big hands, Duren controlled lob passes and offensive rebounds with ease.
He decided to skip the 12th grade and suit up for Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers for a year. Same shit… Different gym… Playing in and starting 29 games, Duren averaged 12.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg and 1.3 apg. Again, relying heavily upon hard ass dunks in dude’s faces, Duren shot 59.7% from the field. He led the AAC in block and rebounds per game. Duren was named the the AAC Rookie of the Year, All-AAC 1st team and to the All-AAC Tournament team.
So what happens next year in the NBA? How will a 19 year old Duren fare against the best players in the world?
He will be able to rebound. Indeed, he may have been the best rebounder in college basketball and this is a skill that will translate to the highest level of play. Duren is an extremely quick leaper and protecting the rim is one of his biggest strengths. This skill will also translate… He is a patient defender and knows how to wait through pump fakes. Even when he is not able to actually block the shot, he alters them. Duren is a huge presence around the basket… Offensive players have to know where he is… His length and athleticism will make him a capable defender from Day 1.
Offensively, Duren doesn’t possess a varied repertoire of post moves. In a lot of ways, he is from another era… He’s a throwback, old-school 70s-80s big man capable of scoring around the basket on put-backs, alley-oops and on offensive rebounds. In the age of Joel Embid and stretch 4s and 5s, Duren did not make a single 3 point shot this past season. Indeed, he only had one 3 point attempt. Over the past couple of years, we have seen him working hard tp develop something resembling a mid range game. His jump shot form appears mechanically sound and, perhaps, he can hone a shot that will stretch out towards the 3pt line over time.
But for now, he’s just gonna continue to dunk that shit real hard on muthafucka’s heads on the offensive end of the court. He will play immediately at the next level because his rebounding and interior defense are so strong he will have to be on the floor. If he gets a reliable jump shot, the sky is the limit. If he doesn’t improve offensively he’ll probably be just another good $300-$400 million dollar 12-15 year NBA player.