In his rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs and the first 37 games of this season with the Pistons, Boban Marjanovic was much like pre “A New Hope” Darth Vader. It was noticed what he could do in small bursts, as we see with Darth Vader in “Rogue One” at the end of the movie.
Boban went full Darth Vader in the Vader-Ben Kenobi battle in “A New Hope.”
Against the Charlotte Hornets, the Pistons were without backup center Aron Baynes. The first quarter was going well for the Pistons, who were scoring the ball and taking it to the Hornets. Then both Andre Drummond and Jon Leuer picked up two fouls in the first six minutes of the game. Enter Boban.
Detroit went on a run as soon as Marjanovic entered. In his first stint, nine minutes, Marjanovic scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Charlotte had no answer for Boban on the glass and was only able to stop him by fouling him. Fouling Boban did not work either. He went 9-11 from the charity stripe in the game, good for 81.8% at the line. The only thing that could stop Boban was Boban himself. Marjanovic was limited to 22 minutes due to his lack of stamina.
Stan Van Gundy wanted to keep playing Marjanovic but was unable to.
“Probably the biggest reason that game got close is I took him out for a rest, and then it got late and I didn’t go back to him,” Van Gundy said. “I should have just left him in as tired as he was, and probably the game would have been over.”
Nonetheless, Marjanovic was great when in. He finished the game with 15 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in 22 minutes. He also added a block in the win.
Marjanovic was signed by the Pistons this past offseason as insurance. Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes have been ahead of him all season, with Drummond obviously starting and Baynes getting the backup minutes.
The last two games, however, Baynes has not played due to a sprained ankle. This has thrust Marjanovic into the rotation. On Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers, Marjanovic took over the backup spot for the injured Baynes. He played a limited 10 minutes, as Andre Drummond was playing well and Jon Leuer also spent some time at center. Marjanovic had four points on 2-5 shooting. He also added four rebounds and two blocks.
In his last two games, Marjanovic is averaging 9.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in 16 minutes per game.
He has the second highest PER(Player Efficiency Rating) in the league over the last five games at 34.8. His rating is only behind MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas, who boasts a 35.1 PER.
Aron Baynes is averaging 4.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game this season.
Marjanovic’s stats compared to Baynes’ are obviously better, but his come over a much small sample size.
The Pistons have been in a funk as of late, but they play well with Marjanovic on the court. He commands a lot of attention due to his 7’3″ and nearly 300-pound frame. He had nine offensive rebounds against the Hornets, who were unable to keep him off the offensive glass. His size alone makes him so hard to stop.
Detroit has a decision to make between Baynes and Marjanovic, and who they want to role with as the backup center for the rest of the season.
Marjanovic should continue to get the opportunity to prove himself. It’s hard to go off for just one game and do what he did. His dominance when Drummond was off the court was huge in Detroit’s winning effort against the Hornets.
Baynes has always been reliable for Detroit. He works hard and is a floor general on the defensive end.
Marjanovic has more upside, but Baynes is a player you know what you are going to get from.
In the end, Stan Van Gundy is likely to go back to Baynes when he returns to full health, but that is the wrong decision.
It should indeed be Boban Time.
Featured image: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports