But they do have an early-season MVPish-caliber star in Andre Drummond, a second-year forward whose rapid progression stands to benefit Detroit, which finished No. 11 in the Eastern Conference in 2012-13.
As of Nov. 11, Drummond led the NBA with a .674 field-goal percentage and was fourth with an average of 12 boards per night. Although he's scoring about 12 points per game, he's on pace for a roughly 30-percent increase from 2012-13's mark of 8.6 per outing.
The 6-foot-10-inch, 270-pound former UConn big man has notched a double-double in eight of 10 games for the 4-6 Pistons, who are fresh off a 92-86 victory over the New York Knicks. Drummond threw in 13 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals in the third win of November.
Becoming increasingly important to the future of pro hoops in MoTown, Drummond has been tabbed as "untouchable" by team president Joe Dumars, who said the he wouldn't trade the young star under any circumstances.
"There are guys who, a pecking order of things we would or wouldn't do, Drummond is certainly one of those guys," Dumars said to the Detroit News' Vincent Goodwill (via NBC ProBasketballTalk's Dan Feldman).
If there's a "pecking order" for dunking, Drummond has to be near the top of the list. This past Sunday night, he threw down one of the better early-season slams when teammate Brandon Jennings tossed the ball of the high glass (while on the break), putting it in a place where only Drummond could snag it and flush it through the basket.
Mission accomplished. Although the Pistons lost that game 114-99 to the Los Angeles Lakers, Drummond provided more than enough air to inflate his hype a few notches.
Over the summer, Grantland.com writer Johnathan Abrams wrote a retrospective piece on the of Drummond, who, in comparison to others in the NBA, developed at a relatively late stage in the game (pardon the pun). Dumars, whose infamous Carmelo Anthony blunder in 2003 will always haunt fans, recognized the extraordinary potential when he first saw Drummond, according to Abrams.
It appears that Dumars hit a home run by taking Drummond with the No. 9 pick of the 2012 draft. Drummond is developing into a cornerstone of the organization, and there is no doubt that he's Detroit's early-season MVP.
He's entered new territory. His emergence imminent, Drummond is well on his way to the top of the NBA food chain. And he's not afraid to scrap in order to get there.
"When I'm on the floor, I play my hardest every single possession," Drummond told the Oakland Press' Dave Pemberton. "No matter how long I play, two minutes, four minutes, 30 minutes, it really doesn't matter. I'm going to give my all every play."
Adam Biggers has followed the Detroit Pistons and the NBA for more than 20 years. Find him on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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