When the Detroit Pistons drafted Andre Drummond with the ninth pick of the 2012 NBA draft, how many people did you hear say “He has no motor.” Or, “If he wasn’t good in college, he won’t be in the pros.” Or, “Joe Dumars is drafting him, so he must be a bust!”
Fast forward two years later and Drummond’s critics have been silenced — he has a chance to make the 2014 Team USA roster. Drummond has given a Pistons franchise that has been in disarray for the last six years new hope for the future. In his rookie season, he averaged 7.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks with a 61 FG%. And he did this playing just over 20 minutes a night coming off the bench. Drummond would check in and immediately change the complexion of games by using his brute strength, agility and will to help his team. It didn’t take long for people to notice that this guy was the real deal. This soon had Pistons fans screaming for head coach Lawrence Frank to start Drummond, but Frank never budged until late into the season.
Maybe Frank knew easing a 19-year-old big man into his first season in the league would be best for him, rather than just throwing him into the wolves.
“Big Penguin,” as some Pistons fans like to call him, quickly became a fan favorite in Motown. This past season, there was no doubt that Drummond was going to start. And he certainly didn’t disappoint. He averaged a double-double in just his second season, putting up 13.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks with a PER of 22.65 and shooting a sizzling 62.3 percent from the field. Drummond became just the second player in history to average at least 13 points, 13 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals in either his first or second season. The other to do it is some dude named Bob McAdoo.
Pretty good, huh?
There were so many nights where Drummond would get the easiest looking double-doubles you will ever see. He would sometimes have 10 rebounds by the middle of the second quarter. Drummond has perfect size for a center, can move like a guard and is already the best offensive rebounder in the game. In fact, Drummond pulled down 440 offensive rebounds this past year, the most by a player since New Jersey‘s Jayson Williams in 1998 (443). He has tremendous basketball instincts and is still ONLY 20 years old.
Drummond wants to be great. He wants to make All-Star games, have his own commercials and have his jersey be one of the top sellers on the market. During the 2014 Rising Stars Challenge in February, Drummond used that game to really make a name for himself. Right from the beginning, you saw him going hard after every rebound, sprinting up and down the floor and even managing to make his free throws. Don’t tell him it was only an exhibition game.
The Detroit Pistons forward had 30 points and a Rising Stars Challenge-record 25 rebounds, leading his team to the win and snatching the game MVP.
It won’t be long until Drummond plays in the Sunday games.
But the national recognition for him will come permanently when the Pistons start winning. And he knows it. He will never put himself ahead of the team. At this stage of his young career, losing already gnaws at him. There is nothing he hates more. So many times after a game, you would see Drummond sitting at his locker room with reporters surrounding him, his face clearly full of disappointment with him uttering the words “I hate losing.”
Drummond gets it.
Unfortunately, there are so many young players in the league that only care about their individual numbers. They don’t start caring about winning until later in their careers. But Drummond is cut from a different cloth. It’s a new era for the Pistons with the recent hiring of president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy brings instant credibility to a team that sorely needs it. But Van Gundy’s move to Detroit caught people by surprise.
Sure, the opportunity to run both the front office and head coaching duties would be appealing to anyone. But there was also one factor that led to his decision — one major factor: Andre Drummond.
He’s putting the league on notice.