Andre Drummond will not make much of an offensive impact early in his NBA career but the Detroit Pistons can live with that. They finally got the interior defensive presence and shot blocker they have craved since their run of six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances ended.
Drummond, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound freshman from Connecticut, will be the Pistons' center for many seasons to come if he maximizes his size and athleticism. Considered a possibility to go No. 2 overall early in the draft process, he slipped to Detroit's first-round slot at No. 9.
"For big men in the NBA today, it's imperative that you be really athletic," president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. "It's really tough if you're a big man and not athletic because the game has changed so much. He can protect the rim, he's very athletic and he has a ready-made NBA body."
Dumars admits that Drummond is very raw offensively but Drummond promises that he'll develop those skills, saying he walked into a "great situation" by getting passed over by eight other teams.
"It doesn't matter what the number is," said the 18-year-old Drummond, referring to where he was drafted. "It's how hard you work."
This is the third consecutive season the Pistons have benefited from a unexpected slide by a player projected to go higher in the lottery. Greg Monroe fell into their laps two years ago at No. 7 overall after Golden State surprisingly selected forward Ekpe Udoh at No. 6. Dumars was planning to pick a frontcourt player last year but when there was an early run on big men, he shifted gears and nabbed floor leader Brandon Knight at No. 8.
The Pistons were trying to decide between North Carolina forward John Henson and Illinois center Meyers Leonard in the weeks leading up to the draft. When they realized Drummond might slide, Dumars flew to New York two nights before the draft to watch him in a private workout.
After Sacramento selected Kansas forward Thomas Robinson instead of Drummond at No. 5, the Pistons knew he would drop to them unless someone else traded up. When Toronto failed to make a deal just ahead of them, Drummond was theirs.
With Drummond at center, Monroe will move to power forward in the long run. Monroe's offensive prowess should blend nicely with Drummond's defense.
"They can cover for each other's weaknesses," Dumars said.
The Pistons added depth on the wing with second-round picks Khris Middleton and Kim English.
Dumars also made a significant move two days earlier when he traded underperforming guard Ben Gordon to Charlotte for small forward Corey Maggette and a future first-rounder. That pick is lottery protected next season, top 8 protected the following season and protected only at No. 1 overall in 2015.
That move shed approximately $15 million in salary over the next two seasons. Maggette's expiring contract -- he'll make $10.9 million this season -- gives the Pistons an asset that they could deal before the February trade deadline or use to facilitate a trade or sign a free agent next offseason.