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Let’s try something new with Andre Drummond

It didn’t take long. An hour or so after the Pistons drafted Andre Drummond in the 2012 NBA Draft, someone in the comments chimed in with the first of what I’m sure will be many ‘ … the next Ben Wallace!’ comparisons.

I get why we do it, I really do. It’s fun to reminisce about players of the past and hope that the new era of players will embody the traits that we loved in previous Pistons. Drummond is big, strong and, like Wallace, probably more skilled defensively than offensively. It’s nice to have a player like Wallace in Detroit’s recent past who we can look at and say, “Man … if Drummond can have the type of impact on this team that Wallace had on the 2000s teams, Detroit will be a championship contender again soon.”

The problem, though, is that it sets the bar impossibly high for a young player who needs time to become whatever it is that he is. Wallace has notoriously been one of the hardest working most self-motivated guys in recent NBA history. He’s intense, plays every game like it’s a championship game and made himself into an all-time great player because he had a superior work ethic, which allowed him to absolutely maximize the skills he did possess while making his weaknesses irrelevant.

Drummond is young. We don’t know how motivated he is yet. Although he possesses the athleticism and build to make him a force defensively, we have no idea if he will develop the instincts, the basketball IQ and the other necessary nuances that combine with physical gifts to make someone truly great defensively. Those vital intangible qualities, the things that Wallace and defensive players like him possess, are sometimes glossed over when a player’s skillset is described. When you look at how few truly elite, dominant defensive players there are, it’s obvious how rare those gifts are and that it’s not a given that they develop. If it were easy to develop defensive instincts, every athletic big man would be an elite defensive player. As people who have watched JaVale McGee up close will tell you, it’s easier said than done.

Drummond deserves the opportunity to develop at his own pace, to develop his own style, without having the standard that Wallace set imposed on him. Drummond could end up being a very good NBA player and still not ever get close to being as good or defensively dominant as Wallace was during his career.

My aim in writing that isn’t to call anyone out or point and laugh or act like I’m above getting way too excited about a promising young prospect. We’ve all been guilty of it. I, admittedly, bit hard on the ‘Rodney Stuckey is just like Chauncey Billups only way more athletic!’ meme when Stuckey was a rookie. The great Matt Watson, O.G. at Detroit Bad Boys, I believe was the president of both the Carlos Delfino and Amir Johnson fan clubs at different times (although to be fair, I don’t think he ever got into the ‘young player x = great player y’ business with either guy). Dan Feldman (LOL) wrote about the many, many striking similarities between Austin Daye and Kevin Durant last summer. On more than one telecast this season, George Blaha uttered some variation of, “Ya know, no Pistons rookie point guard has done things like that since Isiah,” when talking about Brandon Knight. I heard too many people to count make the Ben Gordon-Vinnie Johnson comparison (some people even went a little too far in that comparison).

Comparisons are common, mainly because they’re fun. Basketball is a great sport for comparisons because the sport itself is so artistic — lots of guys shoot fadeaway jumpers, but Dirk Nowitzki can have a fadeaway jumper that is so unique to him that when Kobe Bryant attempts a similar shot, he is not just shooting a fadeway, he’s shooting ‘Dirk’s fadeaway.’ I understand why comparisons are interesting to talk about. I understand why young players teeming with potential are really exciting, especially to current Detroit fans who have watched their share of grotesque basketball played by a handful of underachieving veterans with expensive contracts the last few seasons. But I don’t want Drummond to be the next Wallace or Knight to be the next Isiah (though I certainly wouldn’t complain if they are as productive as either guy). The thing that excites me most about the current Pistons roster is the fact that these guys, if they work hard, if they continue to improve, have a chance to give us a completely remade version of Detroit basketball that is unique to them. They aren’t going to be the Bad Boys, they aren’t going to be the ‘Going to Work’ era Pistons, and that’s just fine. They can create their own style and identity and, as long as that style is accompanied by good, winning basketball, still be highly entertaining to watch.

50 Comments

  • Jul 2, 201212:34 pm
    by 1298ty

    Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree that everyone should stop comparing Drummond to Ben Wallace 

    He’s clearly the next Dwight Howard

  • Jul 2, 201212:44 pm
    by labatts

    Reply

    I hope it wasn’t me, lol.

  • Jul 2, 20121:05 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    +1 PH

  • Jul 2, 20121:14 pm
    by Packey

    Reply

    Amen, MFPH.

    I mentioned this already in the comments of a Drummond post on DBB, because yes, comparisons are far too often overused. When asked who he would compare himself to, Drummond responded, “Andre Drummond … I’m trying to create my own brand and motor.” I thought that quote was awesome.

    • Jul 2, 20121:23 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      That’s great. Aren’t we all Andre, aren’t we all.

      • Jul 2, 20126:51 pm
        by SizzleMyBaconPlz

        Reply

        I want to know who is going to have the higher career FT%, Drummond or Wallace?

  • Jul 2, 20121:16 pm
    by Sam

    Reply

    But, surely, those standards of comparison are useful and motivational on some level.

    • Jul 2, 20121:28 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      They can be, but the danger comes when you do it unrealistically, before the young player being compared has even accomplished anything.

      Take Knight for example. The Isiah thing drove me nuts last year — Blaha wasn’t the only one to do it, so I’m not trying to pick on him. But people who made the comparison acted as if Knight and Isiah had comparable rookie years when it wasn’t even close. Thomas had one more year of college than Knight when he entered the league, but they were both 20 years old and Thomas was just a far superior player at a similar stage in his life and career.

      That comparison does Knight no good whatsoever, and I’m not even saying he is necessarily never going to be a really good player. He might be.

      I don’t have problems with realistic comparisons. Those absolutely can be useful. But a lot of the comparisons we’ve seen just thrown around for Pistons young players are not ones I’d label as ‘useful.’

  • Jul 2, 20121:40 pm
    by Mark

    Reply

    Drummond will never be the next Big Ben because he’s MUCH more offensively talented.

    • Jul 2, 20121:44 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      He’s a better finisher, but what else? He’s really turnover prone for a guy who didn’t touch the ball on offense a lot in post-up situations and wasn’t asked to create at UConn. He’s also nowhere near the passer Wallace is.

      He has far, far more offensive potential than Wallace at his peak, but he’s not more offensively talented than Wallace was as of right now.

      • Jul 2, 20122:30 pm
        by Tom Y.

        Reply

        He had some pretty amazing moves in HS, including great behind-the-back passes, really good dribbling and some nice shooting:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXB6vc5Z_A4

        Now that’s a mixtape obviously, I don’t know how many TO’s he had or how many jumpers he missed, but in general he did seem to play much better in HS and to enjoy himself much more. I think his performance in UCONN had much to do with the team situation and breaking his nose during the year. I think his HS performance suggests he’s at least got the ability to do much more than catch and dunk on offense. Whether he’ll manage to develop this ability in the NBA remains to be seen.

        On D, I’m not comparing him to Wallace, but I do expect him to be very good and possibly be in the running for DPOY in a few years.

        • Jul 2, 20123:39 pm
          by Mark

          Reply

          yeah, idk how anyone can watch those mixtapes and say he’s not gifted offensively. I know they are just highlights against high schooler’s, but I don’t care if he was in an empty gym by himself, the things he’s doing with the basketball in his hands for his size takes extreme skill. Big Ben could never do what he was doing in those mixtapes. The difference between them offensively, in terms if skill, is not even close tbh. imo, Drummond has a chance to be an All-Star offensively, not just for defense.  

          And I agree 100% about UCONN. He just wasn’t having fun playing there. Calhoun doesn’t seem like a very fun coach to play for, and I think a lot of the players were a little turned off by him showing up at the last minute and stealing all the limelight of what was supposed to be their defending championship season.

          Put Drummond in a free-flowing offense like Frank is trying to run, with other young guys who WANT him on the team, and I think he will be doing the same things for the Pistons that he did in those mixtapes, because he will be having fun again.

          • Jul 2, 20123:45 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            Darko Milicic allegedly had great highlight films as well.

            Yes, Drummond has fantastic, through-the-roof physical abilities for a big man. Against inferior competition like what he faced in high school, he was a man among boys. At UConn, I’m willing to buy that he wasn’t in a good situation to tap into his potential with the turmoil and lack of leadership in that program, although Drummond is also certainly accountable for not putting in great effort there — the fact that he wasn’t in good shape is on him.

            But we don’t know anything about him, where he’s at in his development and how much he needs to improve until we see him against NBA competition. I put little stock in any highlights of him against high school players. If only a few college players were in his ballpark as far as size/athleticism, then certainly even fewer high school players would be equipped to handle him. In the NBA, most rosters will have one or two guys strong enough to be on a level playing field with him physically. Like I said, he’s a phenomenally intriguing prospect. But we don’t know a thing about him yet.

          • Jul 2, 20127:43 pm
            by Max

            Wouldn’t be shocked at all for Drummond to be in the dunk contest at this point but I don’t know him yet either.   He’s got the chops from those mix tapes though.

      • Jul 2, 20122:42 pm
        by Adam

        Reply

        Ben Wallace is one of the worst offensive players in the history of basketball. He can’t dribble or shoot. He has no post moves, and really can’t even shoot a layup very well. All he can do is pass a little bit and dunk.  I don’t care how unpolished Drummond is, he has more offensive game than Ben. Nearly every player in NBA history has had more offensive game than Ben. 

        Ben was a great help-side defender, and great rebounder, as well as a good on-ball defender. Comparing Drummond to the defensive end of Ben is way premature. But even if Drummond becomes a very good defender I still don’t think Ben Wallace would be the comparison. He is 3 inches taller so you’d have to compare him to a completely different player. I don’t know why Piston players have to be compared to former Pistons either. Drummond is much more similar in body type, upside and athleticism to a guy like Andrew Bynum than Ben Wallace so why even bother comparing him to Ben?

        • Jul 2, 20122:48 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          “He can’t dribble or shoot.”

          That is offensive. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le4sEJDtYe8

        • Jul 2, 20127:52 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Ben Wallace’s offensive contributions are among the most underrated in the history of the sport. Yeah, he wasn’t much of a shooter, particularly from the line. But he was a great offensive rebounder–which is really a huge contribution to team offense. And he was a power player, something every team needs. Finally, he could move well enough that his defender couldn’t really cheat off him. That is huge in an offense built on mid-range jumpers like the “Going to Work” Pistons’. Granted, that last point would be less meaningful in many offenses today that are built on driving to the rim.

          • Jul 3, 20128:42 am
            by gmehl

            Damn you tarsier you i was going to say the same thing in defence of Ben. Offensive rebounds are like gold in basketball. It lets your shooters relax and get there shot going if they miss a couple. Ben was really good at tapping the ball back towards a team-mate to get another shot. I am going to miss that gong when he has ‘officially’ retired.

            Speaking of Drummond and his free throw shooting it will be interesting to see how he handles the hack-a-drummond. If he wants to be in the game at the end then he is going to want to lift that to at least 60% imho.

          • Jul 3, 20125:54 pm
            by tarsier

            Good to know that I’m not the only one who considers offensive ability and ppg to be synonyms (or even that offensive contributions just boil down to efficient scoring and setting up teammates).

  • Jul 2, 20122:12 pm
    by inigo montoya

    Reply

    “The thing that excites me most about the current Pistons roster is the fact that these guys, if they work hard, if they continue to improve, have a chance to give us a completely remade version of Detroit basketball that is unique to them. They aren’t going to be the Bad Boys, they aren’t going to be the ‘Going to Work’ era Pistons, and that’s just fine. They can create their own style and identity and, as long as that style is accompanied by good, winning basketball, still be highly entertaining to watch.”

    Patrick, very good thoughts.  

    I absolutely don’t want something from the past.  These young men should have the opportunity to establish their own identity.  If they are smart, creative, and work hard, I will be pleased by whatever brand of basketball they come up with.

  • Jul 2, 20123:10 pm
    by Sam Bowie

    Reply

    If you don’t want the homers to refer to Drummond as the next Ben Wallace, then get the haters to stop comparing him to Rodney White…

    Problem. Solved.

    • Jul 2, 20125:22 pm
      by brgulker

      Reply

      First time I have seen that one.

      • Jul 3, 20122:18 am
        by Sam Bowie

        Reply

        Every “failed” draft pick gets a Rodney White mention.

        Wasn’t Greg Monroe “Rodney White” before he proved he was more valuable than others that his naysayers wanted? Who did we want that year? Cole Aldrich?

        Cole and Sullinger’s numbers their final years in college were similar, with Sullinger reportedly having herniated discs in his back now. Cole can’t beat out Nazr for 5 foul trouble minutes.

        You always take upside, especially from the Big East. I think Drummond could eventually be an offensive Theo Ratliff..at worst he could be Jason Collins lol

        • Jul 3, 201210:16 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          “I think Drummond could eventually be an offensive Theo Ratliff”

          Like a Theo Ratliff who tells dirty jokes?

          • Jul 3, 20121:41 pm
            by 1298ty

            *rimshot

  • Jul 2, 20123:11 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    He’s not the next Big Ben; he’s the next Shaq! (only kidding)

    • Jul 3, 201210:36 am
      by torchlord

      Reply

      If he even gets compared to shaq in the same sentence someday we will be one hella happy pistons fans.

  • Jul 2, 20124:35 pm
    by kamal

    Reply

    Here’s how I compare our players:

    Knight = Isiah
    Stuckey = Stackhouse
    Prince = Charles O’Bannon
    Monroe = Budha
    Drummond = Lanier 

    Jerebko = Uncle Cliffy
    Charlie = Mills 
    Maxiell = Corliss
    English = Houston
    Middleton = Grant Hill
    Bynum = Lindsey
    Ben = Ben
    Daye = Tripucka

    Look out Miaimi and OKC.  The Pistons are the deepest team in decades.  Title number 4 is months away. 

    • Jul 2, 20125:22 pm
      by brgulker

      Reply

      Not sure if serious.

      • Jul 2, 20126:15 pm
        by kamal

        Reply

        Prince doesn’t remind you of the second coming of Charles O’Bannon?

      • Jul 2, 20127:54 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        +1

        This is just the right level of absurdity to be on the cusp of crazy homer or sarcastic joker.

  • Jul 2, 20124:58 pm
    by DasMark

    Reply

    For a team that’s been as bad as Detroit, it’s nice to see the fans excited. I’ve been reading the blogs on this site for a few years, and I’ve never seen the comments section this active. If nothing else, Drummond is bringing a real sense of excitement to Detroit.

  • Jul 2, 20126:05 pm
    by Hardy

    Reply

    I agree that this youngster need to gain his own identity. I will say this from looking at all the highlight reel footage of Drummond and he reminds me more of Daryl Dawkins (Chocolate Thunder). If you look at how explosive he is in some of the highlights you see a whole lot of monster slams that are very close to Dawkins.
    My real question is if Drummond does develop and can make i to the starting lineup will this take away from Monroe passing or will this team be more like the Spurs or the Thunder?
    I am excited for  two 6-11 guys clogging the lane but I am worried that there possible new marriage of Monroe and Drummond might not be all that with Monroe playing PF. I love Monroe’s game but he can’t hang with Nowitzki, Griffin, and Aldridge. Putting a Drummod on the mentioned 3 would be foul trouble also.
    Well I am excited for what the potential can be and hope that there is a way it can work, waiting on the playoffs this upcoming season (8th seed).

    • Jul 2, 20128:06 pm
      by Mark

      Reply

      Works both ways, will those guys be able to stop Monroe/Drummond owning the paint on offense? I think its a perfect fit. Both guys are unselfish and excellent passers and I can envision a lot of passing between them. You can’t double Monroe now, as he will just find Drummond for an open dunk or alley-oop. And Drummond’s going to benefit from playing with a big who commands the other teams best defender. Meaning Drummond will be going against scrubs a lot of the time.

    • Jul 3, 20122:11 am
      by Tom Y.

      Reply

      They can occassionally switch on defense depending on matchups though, since Drummond should be both stronger and quicker. And if someone like Griffin breaks past Monroe and goes to the hoop, Drummond will be waiting…

      Also, there’s a terrific potential offensively, where Monroe has the option of passing or scoring from the high post, and will usually be guarded by a smaller guy (or at least, against most team either him or Drummond will have a smaller guy guarding him)

  • Jul 2, 20126:31 pm
    by bvpiston

    Reply

    My problem with comparisons is this: they’re given out by the press and fans. I mean, I don’t think Joe D or Coach Frank went to Drummond and told him, at any point. “we want you to be the next Ben or the next Dwight Howard” or whatever. It’s just plain silly. Same with Knight. Blaha makes the Isiah comparisons to get fans excited or because he’s really excited about BK7. But Blaha is both press and fan. He’s not a coach, GM, owner, etc. Sure, the kid might read stuff like this, but I don’t see why it should pressure him to be anything else than he or the coaching staff want and need him to be. And, to be fair, asking Drummond to be the next Big Ben would be insane and unfair. Ben was undrafted, no one had expectations from him when he came into the league, no one was on his side willing to nurture his talent and develop it. He did that on his own and he became a once-in-a-generation player. There will never be a next Big Ben, anywhere. If Andre is able to be half worker Big Ben was(on D) and is able to develop a better suited offensive game, we’re set.
    Let’s let Andre be his own man. Superstar or bust, let’s see what he’s got. I’d hate, however, for him to be the next Dwight Howard, personality-wise. Talent-wise, sure, but maybe he can be better. Maybe not. Who knows?

  • Jul 2, 20127:25 pm
    by apa8ren9

    Reply

    Lets hope Drummond does NOT become the next Benoit Benjamin or William Bedford.

  • Jul 2, 20128:22 pm
    by MarkS

    Reply

    I hope early on Drummond simply plays to his strengths.  I’m pretty sure he’ll rebound and alter/block shots.  As far as offense, I hope he realizes that with his athletic ability and size he can grab offensive rebounds and score plenty of high percentage baskets/dunks in the paint.  I hope we see him answer questions about his motor.

    I cant wait until his summer league matchup vs Favors and Kanter.  I don’t expect much but hoping he shows some aggressiveness and a willingness to mix it up with these other young talented bigs.

    • Jul 2, 20128:47 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Actually, as someone pointed out on another thread, Favors might not be playing because he’s part of the U.S. Select team training with the Olympic team.

      • Jul 2, 20129:44 pm
        by MarkS

        Reply

        That’s too bad.  I was looking forward to that matchup.  It would’ve been interesting because I think that Drummond shows a lot of the same skills and physical attributes that Favors had coming into the league.  Favors was pretty raw and relied mostly on his athletic ability his rookie year.  He was also inconsistent.  He made huge strides last year.  If Drummond can show the same growth/development that Favors has shown in his 2 yrs in the league I’d be ecstatic.

  • Jul 2, 20128:26 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    People need to calm down, Drummond is going to be a beast trust. Look at some of his videos in high school so you can really see his potential. At UConn they didn’t give him a real chance there. Plus the head coach was out of the picture most of the year. Besides the last tournament game he was beginning to get a flow going with his game. No he’ll have the coaching staff thats been working with Moose to get him going. Front office will do there job or it will be their jobs. ( Joe D and L Frank). Here’s a couple of video’s to see what is possible.
    http://youtu.be/UH3_K4uIsxA
    http://youtu.be/FNlN1m5D1d8
    Now I know this is high school but this is what we have to go off of. The talent is there to be 6″10 16yrs old and dribble like that means he’s put in work. Now he will have direction.
    Better than Big Ben…………………………       YES, Book it Dano.

    • Jul 2, 20128:45 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I feel like maybe people just don’t watch enough high school basketball. Anyone who makes it within sniffing distance of the NBA can produce high school highlight videos of themselves absolutely dominating at that level.

      I’m impressed with Drummond as a prospect and a physical specimen. But if you’re giving me high school highlight videos as proof of his future dominance, I’m not buying it. Show me one NBA player from star to 12th man who wasn’t a good-to-dominant high school player.

      • Jul 3, 20122:17 am
        by Tom Y.

        Reply

        It isn’t just the dominance, it’s how he does it. If he was just dunking all over smaller guys and blocking shots I’d say yeah, that doesn’t say much about his skills. But he wraps great passes behind his back, dribbles real well and has some nice jumpers in those videos. That has to at least suggest he has the ability to do stuff like that in the NBA.

  • Jul 2, 20128:43 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    Also Ben could shoot he just never really had confidence in his shot. He practice like nobody else. AD1 won’t have that problem he wants to shoot the ball. Now, he has his band of brothers to help him get there. Man, I can’t wait for preseason when these young boys are familiar with L Franks system and play with the same energy or better that they played with last year, and chemistry falls in place watch out, it’ll be a rap for the Eastern Conference. Get rid of Daye and CV and make one more pick up.

  • Jul 2, 201211:39 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    I’m not saying to  judge him by his high school dominance , Look at his play like his dribbling skills, jump shots and hustle, yeah it’s high school but it’s him at 16 yr’s old in the moment playing to his potential without much guidance. Look at it from where he is at.
    But thats funny that you say ” I’m not buying it. Show me one NBA player from star to 12th man who wasn’t a good-to-dominant high school player.
    You had to do that with Kobe, Lebron, Tracey Mcgrady, and other high school players. What makes him different. Oh and if you look at Shaq and Howard high school videos you’ll see the difference in potential (not talking about dominance) compared to AD1
     
     

  • Jul 3, 20126:38 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    Thanks Tom .Y Thats what I was trying to get across. {But he wraps great passes behind his back, dribbles real well and has some nice jumpers in those videos. That has to at least suggest he has the ability to do stuff like that in the NBA.)

  • Jul 4, 20121:15 am
    by Jack

    Reply

    I got tears in mah eyes.  Maybe he should strive to be CV31.  According to Joddi Jezz HE is our best player and should be starting over Monroe Probably.  OOOPS!!!

  • Jul 4, 20121:25 pm
    by Ozzie-Moto

    Reply

    Comparisons aside I’m not as worried about having high expectations as I am in over protecting and underutilizing him.  Say what you will about Darko, Amir, A Affallo, and Dalfino but all turned out to be more valuable players after we shipped them off then they ever were for us. There a # of factors, OK none were so good that they demanded more playing time and respect but part of that was the way we used them.  Darko was part traumatized by L Brown and having such a deep team he sat a lot but when you do that to a high pic it under minds their confidence and tell the league and refs that they aren’t good enough to get do respect. Amir got no respect from the ref what so ever and by the time we did try and start him it was to late. AA was the worst he actually played very well for us and i say was and is better than stuckey. He defends better and is better shooter as a 2 (Stuckey was never a point) anyway I understand that we can also pic these players apart but other teams seem to do a much better job of getting more out of younger players.  Let him get his feet wet yes there be mistakes but we not winning a championship any year soon so get the players in the line up you see for the future and let them play … I say someone say well he will be behind all these players and we could not possible not start J Max at power forward  REALLY J Max is SO good and Such a Key player that we have to let a potential star play sit a lot this year so we can protect J Max  .. this can’t rock the boat mentality is what has killed the pistons the last 3 years …..

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