Piston's Drummond dominates Summer League, emerging as a top young center
There are some instances, however, when a performance should be recognized - when the performance is to one of two extremes: incredible or horrendous. Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond certainly turned in a performance this summer that qualifies for the former.
Drummond took his talents down to Orlando this month for the first wave of Summer League action. In his second year at the event, the Pitsons hoped to see some strong play out of their young center, and Drummond did not disappoint. Drummond was simply dominant during his four Summer League contests, averaging 15.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 2.0 blocks. He shot a solid 51.2% from the field. Most people will tell you that he was the most impressive player in Orlando this summer. It's a vast improvement from last year's Summer League, in which Drummond averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Selected ninth overall in last year's NBA Draft, Drummond was considered one of the rawest draft eligible prospects. However, his freakish combination of size and athleticism drew the intrigue of every scout in the league, and ended up landing him in the top-10 on draft night. When the Pistons drafted the 19-year-old out of Connecticut, they figured they would be developing him for the long-term.
Drummond started off slow in the 2012-13 season, failing to earn consistent minutes, but by the end of the year, he quietly became one of the most dominant rookies in the NBA. The youngster averaged 7.9 points (60.8% shooting), 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.6 blocks. Only having played 20.7 minutes per game, however, those averages don't do him justice. Per 36 minutes, Drummond averaged a beastly 13.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 2.8 blocks, all with only 1.7 turnovers. Getting limited playing time for a bad team, Drummond flew under the radar during his first NBA season, but a closer look at the stats will tell you he was one of the best rookies from a per minute perspective.
To those who paid close attention to Drummond's play last season, this Summer League performance does not come as much of a surprise. However, it does tell you that his game is improving to the point where he can lay the hammer down on weaker competition, and he should be in for a strong season in Detroit this year. Assuming he gets more minutes and has improved his game (which it seems he has), he should improve on his 2012-13 numbers pretty significantly. His offense definitely remains a work in progress, but he appears to be developing the other facets of his game much more quickly than anticipated.
One of the most important tasks for Drummond moving forward will be to improve his free throw shooting. He shot an abysmal 37.1% last season, and was even worse in Summer League, connecting on six of his 18 attempts (33.3%). If he can become a more reliable free throw shooter, it would make him much tougher to defend in the post, as opponents could not defend him as aggressively.
With 23-year-old stud Greg Monroe sliding over to power forward, and newly acquired Josh Smith filling the small forward spot, Drummond will be the center of a frontcourt that could be relentlessly dominant in the near future. The Pistons certainly still have their question marks in the backcourt, but the hope is that point guard Brandon Knight can turn things around and recent eighth overall pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can be the answer at shooting guard.
It looks like the Pistons are becoming an interesting team once again, and the emergence of Drummond is one of the key reasons why.