Auburn Hills — Fresh from the experience of winning a gold medal and enduring a nine-hour flight back from Spain to Detroit, Andre Drummond decided sleeping in wasn't the example he wanted to set for his teammates working out in Auburn Hills. When they strolled in for group workouts that Monday morning after, they saw Drummond's face, a step that he believes is crucial to his growth in becoming a leader.
"I got in at about 2 a.m.," Drummond said. "I came in Monday morning and joined the guys. I felt it was necessary to show my face. To let them know I'm ready to take the team over."
Training camp is usually the birthplace of such rhetoric, particularly from young players, especially those on teams that haven't yet established themselves. It's common, but the fact Drummond spoke those words unprompted perhaps displays what his goals are in the context of team.
"Even though I was exhausted — I didn't get that much sleep — I decided to tough it out and be here," Drummond said. "I don't plan on taking any days off. I want to be a winner this year."
The Pistons have certainly lacked on-court leadership in the last few years — or at least the type that pulls all forces in the same direction. Brandon Jennings alluded to the lack of proper leadership last season, when the Pistons came into the season with promise, but things quickly disintegrated and led to a summer of change.
So while the words from a player barely old enough to drink legally came as a bit of a surprise, even Drummond could recognize and appreciate the irony of making such a statement.
It's often said players have a hard time being disgusted with losing if they're experiencing individual success, so he's at least trying to buck the trend in that aspect.
"It's kind of weird, talking to guys who've been in the league for a couple years and me being in my third to try to coach them and police them in certain ways," Drummond said.
"It's kind of fun to take on that role."
He wasn't one of the headliners with Team USA, playing sparingly, but he observed other more established players submerge their game and their ego for the sake of winning.
He was considered a long shot to make the team but impressed USA Basketball Executive Director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Kryzyzewski in practices — and they needed extra big men — to make the team.
At the least, Drummond is in the pipeline for future consideration, including the 2016 Summer Olympicsin Rio de Janeiro.
He and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving bonded as two of the younger members of the national team, and Irving blossomed in the environment, as preparation for joining LeBron James and Kevin Love this coming season.
"It's cool, watching guys come in, from being the leader on their team, to put it aside for one common goal," Drummond said. "It hit home; why can't we do that where I'm at? I feel like it should happen, I'll make sure it happens."
Drummond has been one of the few bright spots for the Pistons since being drafted in 2012, and many believe he's on the cusp of stardom.
For that to happen, there must be team success, as the Pistons haven't been to the postseason since 2009.
Drummond's numbers (13.5 points, 13.2 rebounds) suggest he could be ready for the responsibility, and although he's been soft-spoken in his first two years, he feels it's a natural progression — and his teammate Will Bynum said even the notion that Drummond wants to hold that mantle in the locker room and on the floor is a big step.
"Somebody's gotta do it," Drummond said. "I feel like I've done enough with this team that I have the green light to lead this team."
Some of his veteran teammates, like new addition Caron Butler, have urged Drummond to be more vocal, and it's likely new coach Stan Van Gundy is encouraging that as well. With the voice, though, comes the extra attention from teammates and scrutiny from the outside, and Drummond said he welcomes it all.
"Absolutely. Nobody's perfect in this league, everybody makes mistakes," Drummond said.
"I'm ready to roll with the punches, the criticism, the praise, all of it."