January 31, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Pistons' Andre Drummond has tools but is just not All-Star ready

Andre Drummond is averaging 12.6 points and 12.7 rebounds. (Clarence Tabb, Jr. / Detroit News)

Auburn Hills — This isn’t the popular opinion in a town that does not care about the Pistons but has fallen in love with Andre Drummond.

Drummond is an up-and-coming player, but he does not deserve to be in the 2014 NBA All-Star game. His time will come. His time is not now.

Even though his statistics do compare favorably with big men Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert I choose to go beyond the numbers.

Both players have more complete games than Drummond, who is now in his second year in the league. Both are more experienced and both are doing more to help their teams win.

Here is a bottom line question: Which of the three would you rather have in at the end of games to help your team win? Drummond falls third on that list, partly because he isn’t always in at the end of games because teams are so eager to send him to the line and watch him brick free throws.

Sometimes he is not in because coach Maurice Cheeks wants to go with Josh Smith and Greg Monroe down low and go with three guards or use a traditional small forward.

Drummond will play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge in New Orleans and that is where he belongs. Drummond is a talented young guy that is working on his game.

He is a project that will work. He must work on a back-to-the-basket game. He must become a better jump shooter and cannot always rely on put-backs and lob passes from Will Bynum, Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey.

If you look simply at statistics, then you can make a case for Drummond.

Calculations

Hibbert averages 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds. Noah, 11.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists and Drummond 12.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and shoots 60 percent from the field.

“There is always going to be times when a player who doesn’t make an All-Star team feels that he should make it,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “It’s just a matter of time before he is an All-Star. There is no shame in not making it right now because he is going to make it at some point.”

Here is what hurts Drummond. He is the worst of the three defensively and his team does not win. Hibbert and Noah are defensive staples for their teams. The Pacers are 35-10, give up 90.5 points a game and there are murmurs this is the team to replace the Heat as NBA champions.

The Bulls (23-22) are a tier below, but they only give up 92.8 points a game and are 9-4 after trading Luol Deng to Cleveland. The Bulls are also playing without All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.

But instead of disappearing Noah has gotten better.

The Pistons (18-27) are healthy, but give up 102.8 points a game and Drummond is supposed to be the defensive stopper. Cheeks has complained of him being tentative, which is true. He is not a solid on the ball stopper but is a decent off-the-ball defender.

Let’s go to the argument of statistics. No one here argued when the Pistons landed Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace on the 2006 All-Star team. They were not all four of the top 12 or even 15 players in the league at the time.

They were good and productive, but all of them were not All Stars. You could make an argument that Rasheed Wallace was a nice role player that made the team click. You could argue that Hamilton was simply one of a dozen guys capable of rolling off picks and scoring 18 points a game.

But this was the reward for team basketball. The Pistons won the 2004 NBA title with a truly team concept. I was OK with it because they won rings and were still among the elite NBA teams.

Drummond, through no fault of his own, puts up meaningless numbers. The Pistons do not win because of him. This product gets worse and that does factor in when you are deciding between guys who are winning and a guy who is not.

“It is definitely not a trend,” Noah told reporters via a conference call. “I’m not going to take none of these experiences for granted.”

Noah is the ultimate energy man and he was rewarded for that. Hibbert is the best defensive center in basketball, much the way Ben Wallace was with the Pistons. Drummond is still figuring out his game. And the league is saying his time will come.

The time is not now.

tfoster@detroitnews.com
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