Andre Drummond is officially a grown a** man.
Drummond is just a year removed from the law saying he can have a legal alcoholic drink. Teams around the NBA should be frightened because Drummond has been raising hell this season, and he will only continue to improve. At the ripe age of 22, the sky is the limit for the former UCONN Huskie.
In Drummond's first three seasons with the Pistons, he's shown flashes of being dormant. Drummond shared the frontcourt with Greg Monroe and Josh Smith for most of his tenure, and to take nothing against those players, it didn't mesh well with his game.
The combination of Smith, Monroe and Drummond didn't go as planned, and it ended prematurely.
For the first time in Drummond's career, he is not playing with Smith or Monroe. To no surprise, it has propelled Drummond to another level. Drummond has morphed into one of the best big men in the NBA. It is only seven games into the season, but Drummond has been a problem.
He's recorded three 20/20 games this season. Drummond is in company with Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for accomplishing the feat in the first six games. Drummond is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, steals, and yes – even his free throw percentage has improved. Under Stan Van Gundy, Drummond is flourishing as many thought he would when he entered the NBA.
In Van Gundy's system, spacing and shooting are essential for the success of the big man. In Orlando, Van Gundy surrounded Dwight Howard with shooters such as Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu at the forward positions, and he is creating that same formula in Detroit. Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova are both shooting over 40 percent from deep, which Drummond has the room to operate in the paint without being double teamed. Despite Drummond working as the best player on the Pistons, his bread and butter is his effort. Rebounding is all about heart and effort, and anytime you can corral 29 rebounds in a game, you are working your tail off.
As of now, the Pistons are sitting at 5-1, and it has a lot to do with the play of Drummond. The Pistons have not made the playoffs since the 2007-08, season and if Drummond keeps playing at an All-NBA level, it's likely that they can sneak into the playoffs in the much improved Eastern Conference.
The center and power forward positions in the NBA have been transformed more than any other position in the NBA. With teams focusing on playing their best players on the floor regardless of size, oftentimes, teams are playing without a traditional center or power forward. Seeing Drummond play at this level in the new-look level is a treat for old school basketball fans. Drummond isn't as polished as DeMarcus Cousins on the block, nor is he as versatile as Anthony Davis, but he is becoming a great player in his own right.
As the season progresses it will be interesting to see how Drummond adapts to double teams as defenses begin focusing on him. The Pistons have the perfect roster to fit the needs of Drummond. Players like Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have the ability to take scoring pressure off of Drummond. Despite putting up huge numbers, Drummond is not a big scoring threat, but his yeoman work on the boards gets him easy scoring opportunities.
The return of the traditional big man has been an amazing sight to see. Some "big men" are seen taking a montage of three-pointers, or you may see them bringing the ball up the floor. Drummond may not meet those qualities, but he does what other bigs do not want to do. Drummond has a blue-collar feel to his game – something the residents of Detroit can appreciate. There isn't much flair to his game, but he gets the job done.
The city of Detroit has seen a lot of blue-collar big men pass through the Motor City in the past thirty-plus years. From James Edwards, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer to Ben and Rasheed Wallace, Pistons know a thing or two about players who bring their lunch pail to work. If Drummond keeps it up at this pace, it's safe to say that he will be added to the list of Pistons players who lay it all on the floor.