After reclassifying into the 2021 recruiting class, Jalen Duren is the youngest player in the 2022 NBA Draft. As a freshman, Duren averaged 12 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 2.1 BPG, and 2.2 TOPG on shooting splits of 60/0/63. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Jalen Duren
Wingspan/ standing reach: 7’5/ N/A
Hand size: 9 ¾
Pre-Draft team: Memphis
Tools: Defense/rim protection, athleticism
- Efficient scorer in the paint; finishes above the rim well
- Great athlete
- Good shot blocker
- Great frame
- Strong weakside defender
- Good rebounder
- Good lateral quickness; likely to be versatile defensively
- Plus recovery ability due to length + athleticism
- Upside as a playmaker
- Good cutter and roller out of P&R
- Runs the floor well- should thrive in high-tempo offense
- Capable of running high-low sets as the initiator
- Lacks much offense outside of finishing off of passes at the rim
- Doesn’t create much of his own shot
- Needs to improve jump shot form
- Feel for the game comes and goes
- Struggles to make proper decision quickly in P&R defensively
- Makes mindless turnovers at times (see vs Wichita State)
- Needs to use his left hand at the rim more
- Must reduce foul trouble
- Must reduce turnovers; averaged more TOPG than APG
- Can get tunnel vision on offensive rebounds
Defensively, Duren has all the tools to be an all-world defender given his NBA ready body with long arms and dynamic athleticism. Duren can hold his own on the perimeter and is not much of a mismatch for ball-handlers on the perimeter. While the physical tools are strong and projectable, Duren still has a long way to go in learning defensive schemes. At Memphis, they played him oddly in the P&R, forcing many drops, but looking lost when switching up to the perimeter on high pick & rolls with a popping big man. He will need to learn how to switch, when to switch, and what next rotations to make against pick & pop situations. A major strength of Duren’s on defense is his ability to protect the rim. With great recovery ability, length, athleticism, and ability to go vertical, Duren should be among the best rim defenders in the league when he fully develops.
Offensively, Duren has high upside as a dominant roll-man out of the P&R, with ability to pass and create for others. Duren lacks ball-handling ability and post scoring, but can finish plays set up by others, a la P&R roll man, cuts, and dump-offs at a high level due to his ability to finish above the rim.
While Duren does minimal self-creation as a scorer, he puts his teammates in a good spot to get easy shots. Duren was a good passer at Memphis, particularly out of the post. Additionally, he was good at executing high-low post entry passes when playing with another big man. Easily and consistently passing out of crowded areas of the floor will be Duren’s next step in unlocking his passing upside, but there is reason to believe Duren’s playmaking is a valuable long-term offensive tool.
Duren is among the youngest players in the draft, so this learning curve is expected, but the question remains: how long will defensive training/learning the feel for the game and discipline on the fly take him to overcome in the NBA?
Similar to: Onyeka Okongwu, Precious Achiuwa, Robert Williams, Andre Drummond
Projected draft range: 4-9
- Sacramento Kings
- Detroit Pistons
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- San Antonio Spurs
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Charlotte Hornets if they can trade up
Expected role: Rim protector with rim running traits, and elite P&R roll man actions
Unplayable if: Lack of shooting never develops/improves, and his defensive lapses, particularly against P&Rs, doesn’t improve. His feel for the game would be his biggest shortcoming in a doomsday scenario.
Exceeds expectations if: Duren’s jump shooting to the mid-post translates, even if he never shoots the 3 ball. Additionally, if he learns to make quicker decisions defensively against difficult sets, he will become a defensive anchor.