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NBA PM: Andre Drummond’s Strong Support System
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On October 25, 2013 @ 5:04 pm In NBA | No Comments
Four seasons removed from their last playoff appearance, the Detroit Pistons have justifiably been the subject of harsh criticism in recent years. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars has nearly burnt through the goodwill he earned from being one of the best players in the franchise’s history and building a championship team in 2004.
The Pistons’ fall from grace has been for a variety of reasons, from poor draft selections to paying role players like star players and hiring the wrong head coaches, but as we get set to enter the 2013-14 season it seems like Dumars is making the most out of his last lifeline.
For the first time since the 2007-08 season the Pistons appear to have a squad capable of finishing with a record better than .500 and making the playoffs. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are two signings that should pay off in a big way immediately for Dumars, fitting in perfectly with Greg Monroe, who has developed into one of the league’s most well-rounded big men.
Say what you may about some of Dumars’ mishaps in the draft or free agency in the past, there isn’t an executive in the league who isn’t jealous over the fact that he landed what could end up being one of the league’s best centers with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Drummond, who just turned 20 years old in August, has yet to officially arrive as a NBA player, but it’s viewed as just a matter of time before he does so by most. At 6’10, 270 lbs. with as much as athleticism as any big man in the league, including Houston’s Dwight Howard, Drummond is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.
The Pistons have wisely taken their time with Drummond and been very patient with him. It would be easy to get too caught up in how good he could be down the line and overload him in the meantime, but instead they’ve put minimal pressure on him. Being able to learn at his own pace, a luxury many young big men haven’t had, has been invaluable for Drummond.
“I got a year under my belt, so I know what to expect,” Drummond said to HOOPSWORLD. “I know the ups and downs in the league, you can have a five game winning streak, five game losing streak, it can go on and on but I feel really good coming into this season, I have a better understanding.”
Ten short years ago the Pistons had another young big man in Darko Milicic who they felt had the potential to be one of the best in the league. Dumars passed on the likes of Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh to select Milicic second overall in the highly-regarded 2003 draft.
Expectations were immense and Milicic folded under them. His confidence disappeared when he couldn’t crack the rotation and it didn’t help that there was little patience in the lockerroom for his struggles as there was only one singular focus: winning a championship.
Odds are, no matter what the Pistons did differently to help Milicic, he was never going to develop into the player they hoped they were getting. He had multiple chances to prove himself after leaving Detroit and never did. He now finds himself out of the league despite still being young at 28 years of age.
Still, there was a lot of valuable lessons they learned from his failures and Drummond has been a beneficiary of those, as well as coming in at a time where the level of patience is tenfold what is was when Milicic arrived.
Drummond is surrounded by players who want nothing more than to see him succeed and become a dominant force. There’s a strong veteran presence, but it’s young veterans like Smith, Jennings and Monroe, who have really taken to Drummond – as has Pistons icon Chauncey Billups who re-signed with the team this summer.
“He’s been great,” Drummond said of Billups. “Really great. He’s like another coach but he plays. He just always has different things to help all of us grow, always giving us a different piece of advice to help us be a better team.
“Josh is a leader. He’s probably one of the better vets I’ve been around. He’s real, real vocal with me, tells me different things I need to do to be a better player and how to continue to grow in this league.
“[Jennings] is a playmaker. A lot of people watch him, he does different things on the floor that we needed to add to this team. I’m just glad I’m his teammate.”
As good as Smith has been for Drummond off of the court, there are doubts about how well the trio of he, Monroe and Drummond can mesh together on it.
“We’re all out here playing hard, starting to gel well,” Drummond said. “I know there was a lot of talk about how the paint would be locked up because we have Josh, me and Greg playing at the same time but that’s not the issue at all, we can spread the floor well. Josh can knock down the open shot, Greg can knock down the open shot, I’m the glue guy, grab a lot of rebounds and play hard.”
A glue guy now, but the Pistons and Drummond are doing everything they need to in order to ensure he becomes much more. We still may be a year or two away from when he truly erupts and becomes a force to be reckoned with, but being a contributor to the Pistons ending their playoff drought this season is certainly not out of the question.
“Everybody wants to be in the playoffs, that’s everybody’s goal in the beginning of the season,” Drummond said. “As of right now we’re all just worried about what’s going on right now. We take it a day at a time, practice hard, play hard, take it one game at a time and see what we get.
“It’s the will to win, the will to want to be good and the will to want to be great. We have the players in here that want to be that, be great. I think the players that we have on our team are going to be great because we’re all pushing for one thing and that’s to be great.”
If that doesn’t sound like the normal 20 year old, it’s because Drummond is far from that. He’s on the track to stardom, and the Pistons are guiding him there perfectly.
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Rondo Gives Health Update: The Boston Celtics are going to be without their All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to start the season as he is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered late last season. Rondo’s maintained a presence with the team despite not yet being 100 percent, and brought the local media in Boston up to speed with his progress recently:
“I’m feeling great,” Rondo said. “Working out every day. I’m able to do more as far as compound workouts versus me just doing one workout a day. So I’m more on my leg and I’m able to handle it. I’m getting better. It’s getting stronger each day.
“I got fitted for my brace, so I don’t think contact will be too far away. So I’m just waiting to get cleared from my doctors.”
Rondo assessed his surgically repaired right knee to be at 87 percent, stating that he wants to be able to dunk off of it before making his comeback.
“It’s going to be hard to tell me to ease into it,” Rondo said. “When I get back out there I want to go full speed and I don’t want any limitations, so that’s when I’ll return, is when I’m able to do that.”
There’s no official date set for Rondo’s return, but with no setbacks yet and how far he’s come already, it definitely looks like he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
Dr. Travis Heath, a professional psychologist and former NBA scout, recently handed out advice for some of the NBA’s worst teams. Click here to see what he prescribed for teams poised to occupy the league’s cellar this upcoming season!
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