In some ways, the first day of training camp is going to be like the first day of school for the Detroit Pistons. With a new coach and new systems on offense and defense, there will be plenty of adjustments to be made.
Andre Drummond is going to have some good stories to tell about what he did during his eventful offseason. It’s not just going to be about some exotic trips to faraway islands and a couple workouts in the gym.
Drummond has pushed his offseason work to continue expanding his game, but also has been a basketball ambassador for the NBA and has participated in the U.S. national team’s workouts. Entering his seventh season in the league, he’s established himself as a two-time All-Star and had his best season, posting 15.0 points, a league-leading 16.0 rebounds and a career-best 3.0 assists.
Still, there seems to be more to his game that Drummond is yet to uncover. That’s part of the task ahead for new Pistons coach Dwane Casey and for Drummond, who has been all over social media showing the progress he’s made in looking to add a consistent jump shot to his game.
In his Instagram stories, Drummond has posted several clips of himself shooting 3-pointers in one rigorous workout after another — similar to the routine a more accomplished guard or small forward might do. At 6-foot-11, Drummond looks a bit out of place so far away from the rim, but his form is improving and it’s an element of his game that could become part of his repertoire.
“Adding that to my game is something I’ve been working on for years but this is the year where I’ve taken it to another level of putting up a lot more shots, and I’m getting more comfortable with it,” Drummond told The Detroit News. “It’s something that I’m going to use as a staple, to (move away) from the basket, which a lot of people can do when they add the 3-point shot to their game.”
Drummond says he shoots until he makes 200 jumpers per day, six days per week, looking to find a rhythm that will make him more comfortable to take those same shots in game situations. He’s done it in games at the Drew League in the Los Angeles area and other exhibitions.
While Drummond has spent most of his career near the basket — 93 percent of his field-goal attempts last season were within 10 feet of the rim — he has made only 5-of-30 combined on 3-pointers in his first six seasons in the league, including missing all 11 of his attempts last season.
Next season likely will be different.
Drummond is pulling together all the parts of his game and if Reggie Jackson can stay healthy, and with the addition of Blake Griffin, Drummond could have the freedom under Casey to explore other pieces of his skill set. He credits having surgery to correct a deviated septum last summer with his rejuvenation last season, and he’s building on that jump.
“Even now, I’ve gotten in better shape than last summer, coming in and being able to shoot the ball,” Drummond said. “I’ve done a good job of working on my body before picking a ball up (this summer).”
Drummond was selected as one of the 35 members of the Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas last month and along with Griffin, flashed some of his new skills. The hope is that Griffin, acquired at the trade deadline last season, can make a versatile and formidable frontline with Drummond — an unorthodox approach with two big men — in today’s NBA.
It’s yet another example of Drummond in a high-profile position in the league, which acknowledges some of his accomplishments in his career so far. If he’s not already among the top five centers in the league, he’s quickly approaching that status.
Drummond’s off-court ascent is mirroring his success on the court. He was selected as an ambassador for the Jr. NBA World Championships, which begin this week in Orlando, featuring 32 boys and girls teams of 13- and 14-year-olds from around the world.
The Detroit team won the regional competition and will represent the Midwest among the 16 American teams.
“Interacting with them and seeing how excited they are to be on the floor and to see kids from all over the world is what it’s all about,” Drummond said. “(Being selected) is a testament to the work I’ve put in throughout my career on and off the court. I’m known for doing things in the community and getting my face out there for all different things. I love being a part of this for the first time.”
He made other news off the court, with a little kerfuffle on social media. A Boston Celtics fan posted on Twitter about Pistons teammate Stanley Johnson: “Jaylen Brown is what the Pistons thought Stanley was gonna be lol.”
The comment began a back-and-forth with many in the Celtics’ fan base — some even questioning whether Drummond was being serious. The numbers weren’t as big a thing as just having his teammate’s back in a sticky situation.
“I would have said that to anybody — I don’t care if it was Jaylen Brown or LeBron James. I’m riding with my brother, no matter what the outcome is,” Drummond said. “If they have a problem with it, they can go ahead. I expect anybody to feel that way about their teammate. … I’m not going to change my mind.”
It’s another side to Drummond, who is moving into the prime of his career — as he turns just 25 on Friday — taking on the role of big brother and mentor.
He is still growing.
It’s been a busy summer already, and there’s still more than six weeks before training camp starts.