At 22-years-old, Detroit Pistons centre Andre Drummond is only in his fourth season in the NBA, but having made his first All-Star appearance last week, it’s clear to see that Drummond has transitioned from shining light to five spot superstar.
New York-born Drummond is currently producing career-best numbers in just about every column going. Although he’s been established on the boards for some time now, Drummond has taken his rebounding to new heights and leads the league with an average of 14.9 a game – a number that was closer to 18 in the opening month or so of the season.
He’s currently racking up nearly twice as many steals on average per game this term as opposed to last, he’s noticeably improved from the charity stripe (bar the record 23 he missed Vs the Rockets in January), dropped his first three pointer in over two seasons and the Pistons pivot is also laying on more assists than he ever has before.
However, it’s the offensive force Drummond is morphing into that is changing his perception from tenacious board grabber to elite big man.
Drummond is grabbing an average of 17 points a night at present which is a huge jump from his numbers from the previous two seasons where his numbers lingered around the 13 point mark.
What’s been the catalyst for his change in efficiency?
The ninth pick in the 2012 draft believes his diligent work over the summer is the primary reason for his statistical jump.
Drummond said: “I really worked on my low post game, strength and conditioning to be in the best shape I can be throughout the year and have just got a lot of good shots up in game time.
“I really just got myself together, got myself prepared for this long season. I set a goal for myself and I reached it. For me, I just play my game.”
It’s testament to the notion that hard work really does pay off as the 6’11” Drummond has been yielding career high results. More importantly than that for him, it’s helped catapult the Pistons into rare territory in recent years.
The Pistons currently lie in ninth spot in the Eastern Conference, one defeat behind the Charlotte Hornets, who currently occupy the final playoff berth in eighth.
It’s been six years since the Pistons have made the post-season having finished in 11th three times, 12th twice and 10th once during that period. The arrival of point guard Reggie Jackson and the rapid ascent of Drummond combined to give Pistons fans some renewed hope that they may see Detroit in the playoff shake-up this time around.
For Drummond though, it’s not all about him. The 2014 NBA Rising Stars Challenge MVP understands his personal growth is intertwined with the Pistons fortunes, but he appears to have no overriding ego or interest in superseding the franchises ambitions.
Drummond said: “I do not dictate the type or style that anybody wants to play. On my team, I know my role, the importance of what I do for my team.”
And it’s refreshing that he does. The Pistons have had successful big men before; Ben Wallace was a four-time Defensive Player of the Year during his six-year stay in the Motor City and lest we forget a controversial rebounding machine named Dennis Rodman, either.
Hopefully, Drummond’s tenure can become as fruitful, if not less controversial than the latter. Drummond’s comments appear to indicate there’s also a head on his talented shoulders.
If Drummond – who doesn’t turn 23 till August – can work on his blocks in the same resounding fashion that the Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside has, then he would be squaring off with Kawhi Leonard for Defensive Player of the Year in no time.
Looking at his ability and, more importantly, his desire to improve, it's smart betting that he will. Drummond has the upside to be the franchise player for the Pistons for years to come and if the front office makes more smart moves in the vein of Jackson around him, they’ll be equipped to contend in the east once more.
To add to the hype, Drummond has been setting some records this season to really make heads turn. Over the first six games, he averaged 20.3 points and 20.3 rebounds per game, marking the best rebounding and scoring start through six since a certain Wilt Chamberlain back in 1970.
He also recorded 122 rebounds through those games, and that’s also the best since Rodman recorded 120 22-years-ago. Better yet, Drummond became the first player in the NBA to record 150 points and 150 rebounds through the first eight games of a season since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 224 points and 154 rebounds 40-years-ago.
The Pistons number 0 also started the 2015-16 season off as a double-double machine, collecting 11 on the bounce. The last time a Piston recorded a streak as long as that goes beyond Wallace or Rodman – it was Dave DeBusschere back in 1966-76 who had 13 to his name in a row.
That’s some esteemed company Drummond has managed to rub shoulders with and even though it coincides with the Piston’s electric start of five wins in their opening six, it’s still a glaring indicator of Drummond’s capabilities and the effect they can have on this Detroit outfit.
Heading into the business end of the regular season, the biggest test of Drummond’s attributes will be whether the Pistons see post-season action or if they go yet another year frustrated.