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Isaiah Stewart reflects on monumental rookie season in Detroit



ROCHESTER, N.Y.  —  Isaiah Stewart had his first “pinch me” moment in the NBA, when he checked in against the Atlanta Hawks for the first time as a Piston.

The Rochester native went from coming off the bench to starting for Detroit, leading all rookies in blocks (86), blocks per game (1.3), rebounds (453), and rebounds per game (6.7) this season.

“As the season went on and I played against other teams and other vets, I know how much better it’s gotten since the season went along,” said Stewart. “I’m never satisfied. I’m going to continue to build off of this rookie season, get better, work on my weaknesses and continue to chip at it day by day.”

The almost 21-year-old has been keeping a notebook full of things to work on offensively and defensively, as well as notes on what to expect from other players, things to remember about other teams, and positive moments from each game.

“When I wasn’t playing, I was just watching and observing the game,” said Stewart. “Now as I get minutes, I have to study who I’m playing because every night you’re facing somebody good.”

Stewart has learned a lot from veterans around the league, including Pistons center Mason Plumlee. The 31-year-old center has taught Stewart a lot in his short time in the league.

One of the coolest moments for Stewart was recognizing that LeBron James knew who he was during a game.

“As I’m checking into the game, he’s listing everything I do to his teammates out loud,” said Stewart. “He knows the game so well, so that was pretty crazy.”

Now, Stewart is patiently waiting to see if he was named to the 2021 NBA All-Rookie team. No matter what happens, he is pleased with his first season in the league.

“I know I belong in this league,” said Stewart. “I work too hard and I’m a firm believer in you reap what you sow.”