Andre Drummond: The Renaissance Man

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Andre Drummond

Nov 24, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Detroit Piston coach Maurice Cheeks and center Andre Drummond (0) fist bump before the start of first quarter play against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft exists for a reason — to boo David Stern and watch Michael Jordan fail year after year.

It’s also a chance to draft a franchise player.

The thing is, you usually have to stink to make this possible. You need to patiently, calmly, stink. You cannot panic (the golden rule in Michael Jordan’s How to Ruin a Franchise) and you must not draft Adam Morrison.

Only then – armed with a high lottery pick, good scouting and a little bit of luck – can you hope that this happens.

If you’re not that lucky, you could always settle for Andre Drummond — an all-star caliber center who’s capable of dropping ridiculous 31/19/6/2 lines.

Yet no one in Detroit seems all that interested in watching Andre Drummond play. In fact, no one seems interested in going to Pistons games anymore.

It’s your fault, Joe Dumars. You panicked.

You broke the golden MJ rule.

The “aughts” is a weird name for a decade.

There were a few NBA teams that excelled for most of it– the Spurs always, the Lakers in the earlier and latter parts and the Pistons for most of the stuff in between.

Detroit probably got the least amount of attention due to their “blue collar style,” which was an excellent defense, an underrated offense and no superstars. They won a championship in ’04 and were a few Rasheed Wallace three-pointers short of a repeat in ’05. From 2003-2008, they advanced to an absurd six straight Eastern Conference finals.

Then, things got ugly.

After trading their glue-guy (Chauncey) for Black Hole Iverson, they got swept in the first round and seemed poised to start some sort of rebuilding process. It’s not like they didn’t have options. Trading Hamilton (while he still had value) and/or Prince made a lot of sense, especially with Ben Wallace back for his sentimental encore.

Instead, Joe Dumars panicked and did the unthinkable — he signed Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon.

To be fair, they weren’t as bad as everyone made them out to be. They still weren’t any good, though. You don’t want trigger-happy defensive sieves on your team, period (see Mullens, Byron), let alone headlining your team’s splash in free agency. Even worse, the Pistons were an 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. It’s not like they were an impact shooter away from a finals appearance. You dismantle, Joe. Dismantle!

In the years that followed, they just plain stunk. The old guard went quietly (Hamilton waived, Wallace vanished, Prince traded) and Detroit’s flashiest player was Rodney Stuckey, a sort of anti-Ben Gordon (I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it’s something like a point-guard with two-guard size who can’t shoot but can kinda play defense).

Not surprisingly, the Pistons – who were 1st in NBA attendance rate in 2008 and 2009 - plummeted to 18th in 2011 before flat-lining at 28th for two straight years. This year, they’re 26th, right next to MJ’s Bobchornets.

It makes sense. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Given the halcyon days of those other Pistons, there probably couldn’t have been a less interesting team to watch.

Enter Andre Drummond.

He came out of college labeled a “freak” who was “raw” with an “NBA body.” Unless those were pornography search tags, I don’t see why Pistons fans were supposed to get excited either. Just Google “NBA prospect body raw” and see how many player results you get. It’s exhausting.

There were also concerns about Drummond’s motor and not being ready for the NBA. All that, plus a confusingly empty hashtag reference to Amanda Bynes’ motor vehicle skills, led to a discreet 9th selection in the 2012 draft.

Of course, it all turned out to be a bunch of hot air. His PER was only 22nd among rookies in NBA history, according to Basketball-Reference.com. As a 19 year old! Only one other guy has been that productive at such a young age — Shaq.

This year, Drummond’s #unpolished is merely 30 MPG of top-fifteen PER basketball (Hollinger’s PER rankings). He’s quick, strong, has hands like a guard (top-10 in SPG) and is already one of the league’s best centers. He’s got a ways to go in developing a low-post game (nearly all his buckets are tips, dunks, or alley-oops) but a few more obligatory summers with The Dream and things could get downright scary. The fact that he’s just 20 is gravy. Just don’t ask him to shoot free-throws.

Look, I don’t blame Pistons fans for not caring in recent years. Charlie Villanueva tends to bring that out in people. But it’s okay to start caring when you’ve got a franchise center who’s absolutely annihilating people and cleaning up all those J-Smoove misses.

So get down to the Palace, where a superstar is currently in the making. Also, don’t forget to thank the Cavs for reminding you how bad things could be as they try to find another sucker home for their 2012 draft pick, Dion Waiters.

Things are gonna be okay. Andre Drummond has arrived and he’s only just begun.

After all, he saved Joe Dumars’ job.

If he can do that, sky’s the limit.

Horace Smith writes about sports and the universe with a healthy dose of cynicism. He's based in Portland.
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