Drum­mond’s en­ergy makes a dif­fer­ence

Cen­ter more ac­tive in last two games: ‘I’m the rim pro­tec­tor’

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY ROD BEARD The Detroit News

At­lanta — An­dre Drum­mond was de­fend­ing Or­lando Magic cen­ter Nikola Vuce­vic in the paint and went for an up-fake. Vuce­vic piv­oted and put up a shot close to the bas­ket. Drum­mond moved just as quickly to block the shot.

It wasn’t in time; the of­fi­cials called goal­tend­ing.

That play en­cap­su­lated the new-look Drum­mond, still a work in progress un­der new coach Dwane Casey. Drum­mond has been ma­ligned at times for his lack of en­ergy and ef­fort, but those in­stances have de­creased this sea­son, as he’s been more ac­tive on both ends of the court.

He’s post­ing 18.9 points and 16.6 re­bounds and is form­ing a tan­dem with Blake Grif­fin that’s mak­ing the Pis­tons a for­mi­da­ble team to de­fend in the paint. Drum­mond has four games this sea­son of at least 20 points and 20 re­bounds and nar­rowly missed a fifth, with 23 points and 19 re­bounds against the Magic.

Drum­mond stood out on de­fense in guard­ing for­ward Aaron Gor­don on the perime­ter, cut­ting off driv­ing lanes and clog­ging the lane. He also was ac­tive with his hands, forc­ing three steals and caus­ing havoc in­side, in­clud­ing on the Vuce­vic play.

“I just wanted to go get it. I’m the rim pro­tec­tor for the team so when I do make plays, it en­er­gizes our team,” Drum­mond said. “Even though it was a goal­tend, plays like that get every­body go­ing and we try to go get an­other stop.”

In his last two games, Drum­mond has got­ten more ef­fi­cient, shoot­ing 21-of-35 (60 per­cent) from the field and be­ing more ac­tive around the rim, in­clud­ing 19 of­fen­sive re­bounds.

He took some er­ratic shots early in the sea­son, at 39 per­cent (21-of-54) in the first three games, with 1-of-7 on 3-point­ers. He’s got­ten more se­lec­tive and ef­fi­cient with his shots and is see­ing the ball more as a re­sult.

“One thing he’s do­ing a bet­ter job is get­ting two feet in the paint and get­ting deep post-up po­si­tion,” coach Dwane Casey said.

It’s a bal­ance, Casey says, be­cause when Drum­mond gets the ball deeper in the paint and makes quicker, de­ci­sive moves, he’s much more ef­fec­tive. He showed it against Vuce­vic and against the Mi­ami Heat big men on Mon­day.

Drum­mond is mak­ing a pro­gres­sion, as he’s play­ing bet­ter off Grif­fin, with some ad­di­tional pick-and-rolls in re­cent games with Reg­gie Jack­son.

“Ear­lier on, it was a feel out and see­ing dif­fer­ent spots on the floor and where I’m com­fort­able,” Drum­mond said. “Now, know­ing where I can get easy shots in my bread and but­ter, I’m choos­ing my spots wisely and get­ting shots off that.”

Big­ger num­bers

Casey con­tin­ued to harp on the Pis­tons’ strug­gles with tak­ing care of the ball.

They were one of the bet­ter teams in the league early in the sea­son, but the past few games have in­cluded some big­ger num­bers, which has helped them dig into the hole with­out their tran­si­tion de­fense get­ting back in time.

“Our No. 1 thing is our turnovers; we have to make sure we take care of the ball. We went from fifth or sixth to 25th (in the league) in a two-week span,” Casey said. “A lot of it is shoot­ing our­selves in the foot, try­ing to overdo things, one-hand passes, play­ing in a crowd or driv­ing in a crowd and not mak­ing good de­ci­sions with the ball.

“In to­day’s NBA, you need as many at­tempts as you can get. We turned it over 20 times — 20 is way too many; it’s harder be­cause it puts pres­sure on your de­fense.”

Script­ing plays

Many foot­ball coaches script the first 10 or 20 plays of the game, based on ten­den­cies and see­ing how the de­fense is play­ing against it. Casey said there’s a sim­i­lar prac­tice for the Pis­tons, but it’s more based on the units on the court rather than in the foot­ball sense.

“We have cer­tain plays for our first unit and cer­tain plays that are good with our sec­ond unit. It’s like two dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties,” he said. “It’s not un­usual be­cause of the dy­namic play of Blake and Reg­gie and we have to take ad­van­tage of that with cer­tain sets.

“The sec­ond unit is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent be­cause we don’t have that one post guy or dy­namic one-on-one guy; it’s got to be a dif­fer­ent ball-move­ment kind of play. It’s two dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties.”

Casey said there might be a set num­ber of plays in the early min­utes to take ad­van­tage of their pregame scout­ing and to get cer­tain play­ers go­ing in cer­tain sets. But in an age of ad­vanced scout­ing and met­rics, there aren’t as many un­cer­tain­ties.

“We should know how they’re go­ing to de­fend it be­fore the game starts, but we’ll see how they run it,” Casey said.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Pis­tons cen­ter An­dre Drum­mond, right, drives against Hawks cen­ter Miles Plum­lee on Fri­day at State Farm Arena in At­lanta.

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