Andre Drummond is shooting 75 percent on free throws through three preseason games. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
Auburn Hills — Having Rasheed Wallace’s voice in your head while taking free throws doesn’t seem like the type of anecdote that yields positive results, but Andre Drummond’s improvement can be traced to Wallace’s “three points” of emphasis.
Drummond is guarding those tips given by the Pistons’ new assistant coach as a precious commodity.
“It’s a little thing me and him came up with to help me focus when I get to the line,” Drummond said. “I can’t tell you that. That’s between he and I.”
Whatever it is, it’s working, considering the player who shot 39 percent during his rookie year is shooting 75 percent through three preseason games.
“It shows I’ve been in here day in and day out, working hard on different mechanics, taking time on my shot and getting it over the rim,” said Drummond, who’s averaging 17.6 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Considering his free-throw attempts often went wide left or wide right last season, “getting it over the rim” is probably his biggest focus. Instead of swishing it, it usually nicks the front rim and bounces in softly, showing the amount of touch a 280-pound center possesses.
“I think Rasheed has done a great job of working with him of taking his time and shooting the ball,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “It’s central that he gets better at shooting foul shots. You probably just jinxed him but so far he’s been pretty good.”
Even if the prospect of him shooting 75 percent is very generous as a goal, if he became a 60-percent shooter, it would make teams think twice about intentionally fouling him down the stretch — and make him a more viable option to finish games, with his rebounding and size being valuable assets.
It’s a small part of a growing package, and Drummond is not only impressing observers with how serious he’s approaching the preseason -- something established players consider a nuisance more than anything else -- but how relaxed he looks on the low block.
But he’s not tooting his own horn about it.
“You can see the slight improvements,” Drummond said. “Of course there’s things I need to work on, things I need to tweak. I work on things to help better myself and get more comfortable with it.”
The more he improves, the more chances he’ll get in the set offense as opposed to just getting it off the glass and from alley-oop plays. Cheeks loves his activity, the way he gets to open spots easily, despite his mammoth size.
“It’s not like it’s not a plan, but during the course of a game, we’ll throw the ball to him,” Cheeks said. “He’s getting better when he catches it on the pass. Imagine him getting really good on the post and the way he scores, because he scores without getting touches. He’s around the ball so much.”
If Pistons second-round pick Peyton Siva thought sitting out with a calf injury for his first training camp was tough, it was nothing compared to getting the rookie treatment from the refs in his debut Saturday in Brooklyn.
Taking care of the ball is one of his strengths, but having five turnovers next to his name in just 15 minutes of work isn’t a good sign — on paper. A couple of them were dubious “carrying the ball” calls, supposedly a point of emphasis on officiating this year.
“Some turnovers I had, wasn’t supposed to happen,” said Siva, adding his calf felt good and he didn’t have side effects. “I guess it’s something I have to be conscious of. Watching film of other guys, seeing them do it, you try to emulate. It’s something I shouldn’t emulate (laughs).”
Siva hadn’t played five-on-five ball since Summer League, so there was the expected rust and the adjustment of going against bigger and faster players.
“You have to pick your spots. I thought I had an open lane and it collapsed on me just like that,” Siva said.
Cheeks hopes Rodney Stuckey will be back for the season opener on Oct. 30.
Stuckey underwent surgery on the tip of his broken right thumb on Friday and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.