Although the NBA season is young, each team has already played about ten out of their eighty-two games. As of today, the Detroit Pistons have a .500 winning percentage, and are in playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Most of Detroit’s players and coaching staff are the same as they were last season, when they won just thirty-two games. So what has changed that has made them a playoff contender?
Andre Drummond, the Pistons starting center. In 2012, the Pistons selected Drummond with the ninth overall pick, and they hoped he could be a building block for their franchise. In his first season, Drummond played in just sixty games, but showed promise. Drummond’s next two seasons were much better, averaging about 13 points and 13 rebounds per game. His game seemed to have plateaued however, as he did not improve much from year two to year three.
This season, Drummond has taken the next step. His averages have soared, now up to 18.5 points per game and 19 rebounds per game. His Pistons have rarely been in playoff discussions during his brief career, but now they have thrust themselves into the mix thanks to his elite play. He’s not just an offensive monster either. Defensively, Drummond is adding in about 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks.
In three of the ten games this season, Drummond has recorded a 20/20 game, in which he has scored at least 20 points and brought down at least 20 rebounds. During his first three years in the NBA, he had just four total 20/20 games. Drummond had been more than a serviceable player in years past, but this season he is approaching a level that the NBA hasn’t seen in years.
Drummond put the league on notice against the Pacers on November 3rd. His 29 rebounds were a career-high, and he added in 25 points. Drummond also grabbed 122 rebound through the team’s first six games, the first player with those numbers since Dennis Rodman’s 120 in 1993. To put that in perspective, Dennis Rodman was the NBA leader in rebounds every year from 1991 until 1997. That is excellent company for Drummond to keep.
If he maintains this pace, Drummond should be named the NBA’s Most-Improved Player without a doubt. His scoring and rebounding increases alone are enough to win the award. In addition, Drummond is also on track to be a first-time NBA All-Star, something the Pistons have been waiting for since they picked him almost four years ago.
Put Simply: In Andre Drummond, the Pistons have finally found their superstar.
*Stats from ESPN.com, Images from USA Today, NBC, and Red Rock Basketball