Coming into the season, Isaiah Stewart often studied Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo and Los Angeles Clippers center Montrezl Harrell. Based on his early play with the Detroit Pistons, it’s easy to see some of their elements in his game.
Stewart, this season, has emerged as a player capable of impacting games on both ends of the floor. He brings immense energy and effort on the court and often makes the hustle plays that may not necessarily show up nightly on the box score.
Of course, Adebayo has solidified himself as one of the most versatile big men in the game, but Stewart likes studying his passing out of the post and his IQ with the ball among other areas. On the other side, Harrell is a very energetic player that often does the dirty work on the court.
Given those elements, Stewart resembles Adebayo and Harrell in some ways.
“Guys I’ve watched have been Bam Adebayo and Montrezl Harrell,” Stewart said on Tuesday. “Those are guys I watched coming into the league, taking away things from their games. I just take away things from their games. I feel like those types of players are (cut) from the same type of cloth (as me).”
Prior to the draft, the team was very high on Stewart. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver held Stewart in high regard during the pre-draft process and identified him as a player that would eventually be important to the franchise.
Whether Stewart is in the starting lineup, or coming off the bench, he changes the course of games with his high motor.
Recently, Stewart hauled in 21 rebounds in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the most by a Pistons rookie since 1977. The effort by Stewart was just one example of the type of production he brings to the floor on a nightly basis.
“It’s not like Isaiah does it one time,” Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said. “He does it every possession, whether it’s in practice or in games. It opens up the floor. They have got to commit two men to box out and that may allow another player and get a rebound. He is just active.”
Including his 21-rebound outing on Friday, Stewart is having arguably his best stretch of the season.
He has registered three straight double-doubles, and is averaging 17.3 points and 16.3 rebounds as the Pistons have won two of three over that span. His double-double streak is the longest by a Pistons rookie since Greg Monroe had four straight in 2011.
Stewart is yet another example of the Pistons’ talented group of rookie players performing in expanded roles. The team feels very good about their future and they only project to get better the more those players can develop on the court.