Beard: Playoffs would appease Drummond's ire over All-Star snub
Detroit — Pistons center Andre Drummond was vocal on social media on Tuesday, after the All-Star reserves were announced and he wasn’t among them. He was disgusted and disappointed that he wasn’t one of the selections.
It’s an understandable reaction, as Drummond continues to put together the best season of his career, averaging 14.3 points, an NBA-best 15 rebounds and a career-high 3.9 assists. He’s been the best all-around player on the team this season, along with Tobias Harris’ 18.1 points and 5.2 rebounds, hitting 41 percent on 3-pointers.
Whether Drummond was an actual All-Star snub is debatable, given that the Pistons (22-23) don’t have a winning record and followed their 20-game start with an abhorrent 25-game stretch. They’ve fallen to ninth place in the East, into the NBA’s “Sunken Place” — getting no All-Stars and possibly no playoff spot.
Four of the top five teams in the East each got two All-Star selections each. The anomaly is fourth-place Miami, which didn’t have any, amid the whispers that their point guard, Goran Dragic, was himself snubbed. The one All-Star who many experts speculate that Drummond could have replaced was the Celtics’ Al Horford, whose numbers are pedestrian: 13.3 points, 7.8 points and 5.3 assists.
“Winning matters and that’s the message. Al Horford got in because of it. He’s the second-best player on the No. 1 team — it’s hard to complain about that,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said Wednesday. “I don’t know about (winning) above everything else but it’s certainly an important factor and it’s a more important factor in the last few years.
“If you look at the teams, it’s been primarily people from playoff teams. That’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Drummond was passed over as a reserve, in voting done by the coaches. It happens every year. It’s easy to miss some of the improvements he’s made to his game and unless someone pays close attention to the Pistons in particular — which was the case for the national media in the first 20 games — then it’s easy to miss.
“I can’t control that stuff,” Drummond said Wednesday afternoon, seemingly cooled off from his frustration. “It is what it is.”
The NBA spotlight doesn’t shine very long on many teams outside of Boston, Cleveland, Oakland or Houston — but when it does, they’d better take advantage.
“Guess I gotta start doing backflips after every point I score to get attention around here!” Drummond posted on Twitter on Tuesday night.
To some extent, it’s true, but there’s also a component of winning that goes along with that, to garner that attention. The Pistons haven’t been able to get much attention in the postseason, so the only other way is to have a good regular season — which short-circuited with the current slide.
It’s not going to do much good to complain about the reserves as they’re selected. What Drummond and Harris can do is put together a consistent second half and help get the Pistons to the playoffs, where they can leave a bigger mark for the impact they’re having on the team and try to make a run.
Drummond is the only holdover from the roster when Van Gundy took over and as the highest-paid player and face of the franchise, his focus can shift to making a more lasting impression.
If the Pistons are going to have any success in their current construction, it’s going to be around Drummond. The upcoming trade deadline could be a glimpse into the Pistons’ path forward, whether they decide to make a bold move and try to make a bigger deal and push their way up the standings in the East.
There still are two weeks left before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, but they can make everyone forget missing out on the All-Star Game if they can make sure they don’t miss out on the postseason.