NBA

How Andre Drummond's sudden rise has come about

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The Detroit Pistons have come out of the blocks firing with a 5-2 record from their first seven games of the new NBA season.  

The sudden improvement of their 22-year-old centre Andre Drummond has been a key factor behind the hot start.

Fulfilling potential

Drummond has been incredible during the first seven games of the season, looking like he is on the way to fulfilling the potential that has been abundantly clear ever since he was drafted into the league by the Pistons in the summer of 2012. 

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Stan van Gundy, coach of the Pistons, appears to be attempting to assemble a similar side to the one he had great success with when he was coach of the Orlando Magic between 2007 and 2012.

In Orlando, van Gundy had Dwight Howard at his disposal, of whom Drummond is almost a carbon copy, and he built the team around him and ensured the team played to his strengths. Suh tactics took the team to the playoffs for five straight seasons during SVG's reign, including an NBA finals appearance in 2009.

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It appears van Gundy's plan was to build the team around Drummond every since he was appointed coach before the start of last season - decisions to trade away Josh Smith early last year and allow Greg Monroe to leave for Milwaukee this summer, have given more freedom to Drummond.

Similarly to Howard, Drummond has been blessed with fantastic athleticism to go with his size, and it appears as though he has finally realised how to utilise that to greater effect, and should only get better the more experience he has in the system.

While he is also a powerful defensive presence who can grab many rebounds a game and also block opponents shots, the Pistons will be hoping that he does not have to carry all of the workload on the defensive side of the ball.

This is because he is accompanied on the team by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of the better defenders in the NBA, and rookie Stanley Johnson, well known for his defense when drafted earlier this summer, who is already playing 20 minutes per game for the Pistons.

Due to the defensive quality of these players, and the fact van Gundy has the rest of the team playing hard for him, the overall defense of the Pistons has been fantastic to start the season. They've help opponents to just 96.1 points per game, sixth best in the league. 

Matching Wilt?

After Detroit's first seven games, Drummond is averaging 19.4 points and 19.6 rebounds per game.

If these numbers continue to hold at this rate further into the season, there is a possibility that Drummond could become the first player since Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain to average 20 and 20.

No player has averaged 20 rebounds per game in a season since Chamberlain last did so in 1969, which shows just how rare the accomplished would be.

Add to this that Drummond is blocking 1.9 shots per game and getting 1.9 steals per game, meaning he fills up the stat sheet every night.

However, there is still one huge flaw to Drummond's game that could stay with his throughout his career, as it has done with both Howard and the LA Clippers' DeAndre Jordan. Free-throw shooting.

Hack-a-Drummond?

Free-throw shooting has plagued all three of these big men throughout their careers, with the Pistons centre the worst offender of all, making a dreadful 39.7%. If teams cannot find a way to stop him, then they may resort to the hack-a-Shaq method.

Hack-a-Shaq is employed by deliberately fouling a poor free-throw shooter over and over again in an attempt to reduce the number of points the opposition team can score when they are ahead in the game, or to make that player so unplayable as he is costing his team so much, that they have no option but to bench him.

If Drummond is set on making the leap to becoming one of the top ten players in the NBA then he must find a way to improve his free-throw shooting, otherwise he will be exposed by the smarter teams who will utilise the tactic well.

For Detroit, if the team can continue as they have begun then they will certainly have a fantastic chance of making the playoffs, but how far they will go will be difficult to tell. 

Although the Pistons have a good starting five, their bench is one of the worst in the league, bar Johnson, so it may be too soon for playoff success immediately this season, but if they continue to build on this start they will certainly have a chance in the coming seasons if Drummond's level continues to rise.

Topics:
Detroit Pistons
Central Division
Eastern Conference
NBA

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