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Andre Drummond must learn to score in paint while being defended

David Thorpe of ESPN has a four-point plan for Andre Drummond’s development. Here’s the one I found most interesting:

2. Value position on the floor

Earlier in their careers, LeBron James and Kevin Durant felt as though they could score wherever they first caught a pass. While they were right at times, they didn’t score so efficiently when they started their offense far from the basket.

It’s a lesson most players have to learn, including Drummond, if he ever wants to be a scorer. He loves to fly to the rim on offensive putbacks and lobs in transition, or catch a sweet dime from a teammate driving and dropping. But he typically doesn’t even try to catch passes in the paint when he’s being defended — he either chooses to just walk away from the paint or allows himself to be shoved out.

As James and Durant learned, every step closer to the rim that they catch the ball increases their chances of getting to the rim, drawing a foul or both. When Drummond begins to punish guys inside, sealing them on his butt or pinning them to one side of his hips or the other, all while he’s in the paint, his scoring numbers will soar. The prime real estate on a basketball court is the land directly under and around the rim.

Drummond is really good at getting open, and that’s an underrated skill. But, especially against the quality defensive teams he’ll face in the playoffs some day, that won’t always be possible. Thorpe’s advice would definitely go a long way, and the whole piece is definitely worth reading if you have Insider.

Of course, we can’t have anything at all critical of Drummond without something ridiculously positive. Kevin Pelton of ESPN:

In the WARP era, Drummond trails just three rookies in per-minute productivity: Michael Jordan, David Robinson and Arvydas Sabonis. The Lithuanian center occupies a similar spot to Drummond’s on the chart above, but that comes with a catch — Sabonis was already 30, a Euroleague MVP and an Olympic gold medalist by the time he arrived in the NBA. (Sabonis had also dealt with injuries, which is why Portland kept his minutes low despite how well he played.) At age 24, Robinson was also old for a rookie — he served two years in the Navy before joining the Spurs.

That leaves just one center in NBA history who has been as instantly productive as Drummond at a similar age. No, it’s not Dwight Howard, whom Haberstroh rightly compared to Drummond; it took Howard until his third season to push his PER above 20. Instead, Drummond might be most similar to Shaquille O’Neal as a rookie.


  • Feb 4, 201310:31 am
    by T Casey


    Good piece. He’s playing great as a rookie, but if he were aware enough of little things like that, his game could already be better yet. He might even be an effective scorer if he tried to back and bruise his way into the low post instead of trying to get teh ball in the high post and make finess moves like he tries to do so often.

  • Feb 4, 201310:36 am
    by DasMark


    Great piece by Thorpe. The league is intrigued by Drummond, and that’s great. Knight and Monroe never really gained any national attention. Monroe, because he’s not flashy, and Knight because he’s not particularly good. 

    If Dre can become a low post threat, his game will soar. He has a phenomenal practice partner on his team already in Monroe!  

  • Feb 4, 201311:07 am


    Here the problem….

    FRANK does not give him touches in the Paint, I mentioned this earlier…several time Drummond catches players switching, just like yesterday… when the lakers where switching in defense in the 3rd qrt… I think it was Jodie meeks or Jamison got caught defending Drummond he called for the ball…they didnt even give it a 2nd look…

    So nothing is drawn up for Drummond other than lobs….

    I still wonder what has Roy Roger been teaching Dre? i wonder who is speaking to him about how to be a dominate big man? You is telling him to play physical on offense and defense?

    I think Dre can be special, but he needs the right people in his ear… That flop against Gasol wasnt needed..because physically he can hold his own

    Part 2.

    He needs in game activity to get comfortable in the post…it can not all happen in practice…

    Been saying it from Day 1. Frank does not know how to use his talent

  • Feb 4, 201311:17 am
    by Keith


    To be fair, I think many of Drummond’s issues stem from a singular fixable flaw: free throw shooting. He’s shooting 37% on free throws. By every objective measure available, that’s abominable. So much so that defenders might as well foul him immediately on any shot attempt as they will come out ahead in the exchange. This makes having a low post game, or really any game that involves more than slamming home a lob/put-back, very difficult to execute. As a defender, if Drummond ever gets deep position, it’s far more effective to concede the foul than give him have a chance to shoot.
    I would hope Detroit has a shooting coach on staff that will work with Drummond all summer on those free throws. Once fouling Drummond stops being a wildly effective tactic, he’ll actually have the ability to work on those moves in game.

  • Feb 4, 201311:21 am
    by Jerrific


    The Drummond to Shaq comparison is ridiculous at this point. Shaq was an extremely efficient back to the basket scorer when he entered the league. It require a more polished game than put backs and lobs to score twenty points per game, unless you’re Blake Griffin. Shaq is probably the ceiling of Drummond’s potential, but the odds of him reaching it aren’t very high. This isn’t meant to be a knock on the kid, I just hate player comparisons. Let’s wait to see what the kid does with starters minutes (hopefully before next season) before comparing him to guaranteed hall of famers. 

    • Feb 4, 201311:35 am
      by I HATE FRANK


      Shaq was at LSU AT 19 years old …learning to be a dominate from good coaches and other physically dominate bigs like Stanley Roberts….

      Drummond had no coaching or example on how to be a dominate big…all they did was throw lobs to him to

      He comes to the NBA.. and his Big man Coach is Roy Rogers who was never a dominate big, and he was poor FT shooter, and average rebounder….and his coach has never played the game…and the best BIG he coached was Nenad Kristic….

      I love Monroe but he is Finesse….Maxiell is 6’7…. so who are his examples?

      • Feb 4, 20131:00 pm
        by tarsier


        The best big Frank coached was not Krstic. That would be Monroe.

        • Feb 4, 20133:16 pm
          by I HATE FRANK


          Kristic was a center…

          Monroe is a PF, who would have improved with or without Frank…

          • Feb 4, 20133:45 pm
            by tarsier

            A) I agree that Frank sucks as a head coach.

            B) It is impossible to tell whether Monroe’s development would be more, less, or the same without Frank–so that’s not really worth speculating on. On the whole, young Pistons have developed better under him than they have under anyone since at least before Larry Brown. I’m not sure whether he deserves the credit for that, but, at the least, I won’t label him as bad at player development.

            C) Monroe is fine at center. He should currently be playing PF, but that’s because he has Drummond on his team.

            D)You said Krstic was the best “BIG” Frank had coached. Typically, the term “big” refers to a PF or a C. Sometimes, you might argue that a “stretch 4″ is more of a perimeter player and therefore does not qualify as a big. Either way, Monroe is definitely a big man. 

      • Feb 4, 20131:07 pm
        by Jerrific


        No doubt that the Piston’s player development leaves something to be desired. However, a players development doesn’t rest entirely on the coaching staff or the organization, especially in the NBA. That is something Drummond will have to own himself. He has the resources, even if they aren’t made readily available by the Pistons organization, to receive the mentoring he needs. Not to mention countless hours of game footage of literally any NBA big ever he could study and model his game after. Does the coaching staff make a difference? Absolutely. But, in the end Drommund has to own his own development, or he will never be a hall of fame player like Shaq. 

        Do you really think Shaq wouldn’t have become the sure-fire hall of famer he is if he hadn’t been mentored by dominate bigs? I highly doubt it. To think so would be over-valuing the affect of coaching and undervaluing the players inherit ability and work ethic. 

        The fact that we can even have this conversation means he has something going for him. It’s on him whether or not he gets there.  

  • Feb 4, 201311:36 am
    by piston moribund


    Dre has no post game.  No amount of extra touches will give him a post game this season.  That’s his homework for the off season, get some moves and work on your free throws.  Frank has been playing on what Dre can and can’t do.  Playing a rookie and setting him up to fail will be the worst thing for his development.
    Besides, Frank also has to mesh Bullwinkle into the equation and think and plan around the offensively talented but defensively challenged PF.  He has never played PF before and putting him into a position he has never played will no doubt confuse him even more then he is now on defense.
    Franks is meticulous and slow to make commitments, sometimes to a fault, but when he does, he can rest assured that he will commit.  It took a while for him to take Corey out of the rotation but he did and is firmly glued to the end of the bench.  To his credit, he even stuck with Daye and now he has been traded to another team, Can I get an Amen!  He has been slowly and painfully setting his rotation up where Dre is now the first one off the bench.  He committed to Kyle even though is wasn’t the best match at the time and that move has been working out well, Kyle was allowed to work through his mistakes and play without having to look over his shoulder all the time.  I think Jonas will get the same look now that he has returned to the rotation and he will get a good look as the primary backup and in a role that everyone has been clamoring for him to play.  He will also need time to adjust now that the big monkey wrench position SF has been purged, the rotation can function properly.(Still too many combos and no SG)
    This knee jerk reaction is not how Frank operates and I think in the long term, it will serve the team well, if only at the ire of the fans.

  • Feb 4, 201312:20 pm
    by Tom Y.


    He’s just 19, after one barely coached college season. He’s learning plenty day by day. I don’t know if he’ll be a Shaq, but it says a lot about him that it seems legitimate to even compare them.

  • Feb 4, 201312:25 pm
    by Terri


     ”When Drummond begins to punish guys inside, sealing them on his butt or pinning them to one side of his hips or the other, all while he’s in the paint, his scoring numbers will soar. The prime real estate on a basketball court is the land directly under and around the rim.”

    This really hit home because Gasol did a good job of keeping Drummond a safe distance from the basket on that final possession  

  • Feb 4, 201312:59 pm
    by RandomGuy313


    DF was the omission regarding the first point Thorpe made because it provides a valid reasoning  for Frank limiting Drummond’s minutes or limits on what you can post from an insider blog ;)  j/k

    I would take a more athletic and defensive minded Marcin Gortat circa Steve Nash tenure for Drummonds outlook. No shame in it as his rebounding and defense prowess could earn him an all star selection (see Tyson Chandler).


    • Feb 4, 20131:10 pm
      by Jerrific


      Drummond has more potential than just a defensive stopper and rebounder. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is able to average twenty points a game based off sheer athleticism at some point. Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin both do it with out much polish to their games. 

      • Feb 4, 20131:26 pm
        by RandomGuy313


        I agree that his potential is much more than that and if he starts to get set plays like Griffin and Howard then I would be inclined to think that as plausible.


      • Feb 4, 20131:43 pm
        by DasMark


        Howard and Griffin are able to average 20PPG despite their limited offensive capabilities because they’re the undoubted cornerstone of their team. They built their entire offense around them. 

        Drummond isn’t going to receive that same treatment with Monroe there, additionally, they still believe Brandon Knight is going to be something.  

        • Feb 4, 20132:05 pm
          by jerrific


          I didn’t mean to imply he could do it on this team right now. He still has to get better at establishing position, and have at least one post move to go to if he can’t dunk it. You’re right that it’s not going to happen any time soon, but in a few seasons? Who knows.

        • Feb 4, 20133:48 pm
          by tarsier


          I’m sorry, but the undoubted cornerstone of the Lakers is Kobe. And of the Clippers is Paul.

  • Feb 4, 20131:16 pm
    by Domnick


    Yey calderon will play tonight!

  • Feb 4, 20131:23 pm
    by Domnick


    I’d say lets not rush this kid…. Lets make better expectations next season… For now, if he can help on rebs, defense and efficiency then thats already helpful… Next season is the time to bash frank if he’s not committed on drummond’s improvement… He has lots of things to do to be a star… Now im happy coz he’s amazing already… 

    • Feb 4, 20131:43 pm
      by mixmasta


      I absolutely agree. Let’s enjoy the current and expect progress. No reason right now to doubt he would not be up for this challenge.
      Excited to see the Jose to Dre connection tonight.

  • Feb 4, 20131:53 pm
    by bball4224


    Hey! Apparently Calderon is going to be playing tonight! Or at least he is able to. (Pistons FB page posted about it.)

  • Feb 4, 20133:50 pm
    by Trent


    I would love to see Dre catching the ball 10-15ft from the hoop, facing up and using a one dribble drive to either side of the defender. No many C’s are going to have to speed to stay in front of him. It was Amare’s go to move as a rook and for the his formative years in the league. The only difference is that Amare had a jump shot, hopefully Dre can develop that because coupled with his 2nd chance buckets he could become a 15-20ppg scorer.

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