A World of Talent

Andre Drummond combines traits of some of Pistons all-time greats

Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images
I told people before this season that before it was over, no matter what happened on the scoreboard, everybody in Detroit would become an Andre Drummond fan and I’ll bet they have. He’s very, very deserving of it and he’s a flat-out nice, nice young man who is working his tail off to become a better NBA player each and every day.

He’s just got a world of talent. As well as he’s been playing, I don’t even know if he’s scratched the surface yet of how good he can be. I’m very proud of him and we’re very, very fortunate to have him in a Pistons uniform.

As a guy who started calling Pistons games with Bob Lanier in the middle, it’s rare that I see somebody whose stature on the court wearing a Pistons uniform throws my mind back to the Bob Lanier days. Now Bob had maybe the greatest touch any big man has ever had, he was one of the smartest guys to ever play the game and we all know how tough he was.

Yet when you look at the size Bob had and the size Andre has and the work ethic Andre has, you can’t help but think that, hey, he reminds me in many of Bob Lanier. People think of Bob as that big, strong, smart guy with a soft touch, but he blocked a lot of shots and got a lot of rebounds and Andre’s already blocking a lot of shots and getting a lot of rebounds.

And if you look at him at the free-throw line, last year was an adventure. This year you can see him, night in and night out, and at practice, and he does have some touch. When he does things fundamentally right, he’s knocking down free throws, he can score around the basket and he’s only going to get better in that way. The best thing I can say about him is, just in terms of his size and his potential, he reminds me of my early days with the Pistons when Bob Lanier manned the middle.

If you look at some of the things he does naturally, that he doesn’t even need to work on – his lateral quickness, his speed, his explosiveness – he makes you think of Ben Wallace and Dennis Rodman. Those guys had a knack defensively and it’s one thing to have a great feel and know where that ball’s coming off and it’s another to get there and either block the shot or step in the passing lane and make the steal – and it’s still another to explode down the court and get a dunk or a fast break out of the play. Not many guys can do that. You either can or you can’t. And the natural ability that Ben and Dennis had in that area is something Andre shares with them.

And, by the way, both those guys wanted to be great and they worked at it. When you think about where Ben Wallace came from, undrafted, and Dennis Rodman, a second-round pick, you knew they had to work themselves up. The nice thing about Andre is here’s a lottery pick who has a work ethic like an undrafted player.

He really wants to be great and knows he has to work at it. He’s already getting paid, he has enough ability to hang around this league if he didn’t do much work at all for 10 years at a nice salary, and yet he’s working his tail off, as I said before, to become a great player and I think he has a chance to be great.

I don’t think USA Basketball could have made a better choice than Andre Drummond to be in its player pool for consideration for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. He’ll really push the other big men – in fact, he’ll push everybody on that team to play at their best. And if he makes the cut, he’ll help the USA in its quest for a gold medal. This is a guy who, if you play against him, you better be ready to play. He’s so energetic and he’s so determined and when you have his kind of ability, it pushes everybody to be better.

Andre was probably disappointed he didn’t make the All-Star team, but those of us who’ve been around a long time know the odds were stacked because of his youth, because of the fact the Pistons are not a premier team at this time and because of too many other players who’ve established themselves as All-Star caliber players in this league.

Just like the MVP vote, occasionally a guy’s named Most Valuable Player because of what he’s done two or three years before that. Same thing happens with All-Star decisions the coaches make. They’re rewarding players for seasons of All-Star caliber play, not just one season.

But it’s impossible for me to imagine Andre not playing in multiple All-Star games down the road. As it is, he’s going to play in the Rising Stars Challenge and he’s liable to put up some awesome numbers in that game. And when it’s all said and done, I think we’re going to see Andre Drummond put up some awesome career numbers and go down as one of the great big men the Pistons have ever had.