Jalen Duren is a 6’11” hyper-athletic center who likely gets drafted in the 11-16 range. Duren is the 2nd best center prospect in this draft behind Chet Holmgren. He has a high floor, but Duren also holds tremendous potential given his athleticism and age (18-years-old).
Jalen Duren Scouting Report
As a freshman at Memphis, Duren produced 12 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 2.1 BPG on a 59.7 FG%. His Usage Percentage wasn’t large (22.8%), so his scoring potential overshadows the actual production. Duren managed a 9.9 Block Percentage and crashed the boards with an Offensive Rebound Percentage of 14%. Through his impressive two-way play, he earned American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year and a spot on the All-AAC team.
Weight: 250 lbs
College: Memphis Tigers
Strengths: Duren is a lethal lob-threat who becomes nearly unstoppable when running the floor in transition. For half-court offense, he sets crushing picks and thrives as the roll man. When the point guard dumped him the ball, Duren was able to kick it to the corner on the move or find a cutter. His playmaking potential helps separate him from other more one-dimensional centers in this draft. And while he doesn’t have any three-point range, Duren flashed some mid-range jumper ability. On the glass, Duren controls opponents and snatches offensive rebounds. He will immediately enter the NBA as a fantastic rebounder.
Duren’s greatest strength is his interior defense, as he will vaporize any shot attempt. His massive 7’5” wingspan, strength, and vertical leap allow him to cover ground at an exceptional rate. Duren’s defensive instincts are superb because he recognizes when the perimeter defense will break and quickly shows to disrupt the driver. Duren doesn’t have the ability to switch on the perimeter, but he held his own for spurts. He is far more than a traditional big man.
Weaknesses: Duren had a foul and turnover problem in college. He occasionally chased blocks and didn’t stay vertical. It caused him to spiral into foul trouble for a few games. Duren also threw some ill-timed passes that were either picked off or deflected. Both flaws can be traced to decision-making, and they are fixable with NBA coaching.
On offense, Duren loved posting up his opponent. However, he wasn’t efficient because he didn’t possess a soft touch shooting with one hand. Duren needs to eliminate some of his back-to-the-basket possessions and pivot into a drive or face-up jumper. He thrives in the pick and roll, which is where Duren must do most of his damage. Until he improves his post moves and touch, Duren should avoid these possessions.
Jalen Duren Stats
Jalen Duren NBA Draft Ranking, Team Fit, Landing Spot
Draft Ranking: Duren is 11th on my Big Board because of his size, athleticism, and skill set. His floor is a solid starter, and I think he has near All-Star to All-Star potential.
Team Fit: His best fit is with the Oklahoma City Thunder at 12. They desperately need a center who provides rim protection and rebounding. Duren will blossom in the pick and roll with Josh Giddey or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He is also just 18-years-old, so he perfectly aligns with their franchise timeline.
Landing Spot: Duren projects to go in the 11-16 range, where there are plenty of teams who could use him besides the Thunder. Charlotte also requires a center, and they have the 13th and 15th pick. He would supplant Mason Plumlee as the starting center and set bone-crushing screens for LaMelo Ball. The Knicks could select him if they allow Mitchell Robinson to walk, and the Hawks could trade Clint Capela and replace him with Duren.
Jalen Duren NBA Comparison
Duren is similar to Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics. He has the shot-blocking and athleticism to match him, so Duren’s ceiling is a perennial All-Defensive Team player just like Williams. Both players have flashed some playmaking and thrive in the pick and roll. Duren has more size and strength than Williams along with greater scoring upside. However, Williams is a more versatile defender who can switch on the perimeter. Overall, I think Williams has the higher defensive potential, while Duren has the higher offensive potential. They are comparable players though who may annually compete for Defensive Player of the Year.