Lost in a Detroit Pistons notes column buried during the doggiest days of the NBA offseason was this encouraging note regarding second-year Pistons center Andre Drummond, further establishing Andre as one of the favorite players of those that tend to read NBA weblogs in late August.
Drummond, who just turned 20 earlier this month, is already making a veteran move and calling in this year’s crop of Pistons rookies for pre-preseason workouts. The Detroit Free Press talked with Andre about his sound move:
“Last year, I was here real early,” Drummond said. “I’m like, ‘You guys need to get here early. Just because you made it to the league, don’t think you can come back when all the veterans come back.’ ”
So expect to see plenty of guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Peyton Siva and big man Tony Mitchell at the Palace before training camp begins in six weeks. Siva apparently felt winded after his first workout.
“And I told him, ‘It’s only going to get worse. As soon as training camp comes, it’s running times 10,’ ” Drummond said. “So I’m glad to have him out here with me, and the other rookies will be here soon, too.”
Drummond has been a familiar fixture in the NBA’s summer “off.” He came through with an excellent summer league run with the Pistons, and the youngster impressed at the Team USA Basketball Showcase in July. When Detroit made a move to re-sign former Piston All-Star Chauncey Billups, Drummond went out of his way to give Billups his familiar No. 1 jersey back, even if Billups has worn three other numbers throughout his 15-year NBA career.
And, perhaps most importantly, never forget that Andre Drummond dunked on Chris Brown.
This is why, despite a fitful and injury-plagued rookie season, Drummond is setting himself up to be a major crowd favorite in Detroit and an NBA League Pass mainstay for those outside the city. Drummond saw his minutes stay in check during his first year under since-deposed Piston coach Lawrence Frank; but with the signing of big-money free agents Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, it’s clear that the franchise has the playoffs in mind. And if such a thing is possible, Drummond will have to add at least 10 minutes to the 20.7 minutes per game average he contributed last year.
It’s all very do-able, because in spite of that embarrassing 37 percent free throw shooting mark from last year, all the per-minute signs point to Drummond being able to handle the load. His back issue from last season worries, but Drummond’s 4.2 fouls per 36 minutes from 2012-13 were incredibly good for a defensive-minded big man. Much less a teenager working in his rookie season. Roy Hibbert, at age 22, averaged 7.7 fouls per 36 minutes in his rookie year.
And, as Tom Ziller pointed out on Tuesday, Drummond’s rookie-year 12 percent turnover rate is startlingly-low for a big man. Remember, turnovers don’t have to always come from hands of stone dropping the ball. They also occur when referees try to teach lessons to rookies about how to set a screen without gathering an offensive foul.
Now, on top of all this potential, we see the leadership and the willingness to put in the offseason hours. This is a good thing, Detroit.