Van Gundy impressed with Andre Drummond's improvement

Vincent Goodwill Jr.
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — It wasn't the most painful sight in the world, but watching Andre Drummond operate in the post in the last couple years lacked a certain smoothness and effectiveness.

But apparently he's developing at a faster rate than even his coach suspected, through the first days of training camp.

"I feel like he's gotten a lot (of touches) in three days," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And his improvement has been tremendous, even from what I saw in summer-league practices and what we saw in workouts here."

Now, only Van Gundy knows where his expectations for Drummond were before camp started. Looking at tape of Drummond, there was neither an abundance of opportunities last year nor the requisite amount of space — let alone factoring in Drummond is still very raw offensively aside from pick-and-rolls and scoring courtesy of offensive rebounds.

Drummond, at last sight, still was very much growing into his body and didn't display much of a comfort level on the box. It's well-known, however, if Drummond develops a drop-step or jump hook and converts even on a respectable level, his personal ceiling rises exponentially.

It's the difference between being a pretty good player and one capable of being a main piece to a championship puzzle, if not the biggest one.

"He's taking his time, he's patient, making good, strong moves," Van Gundy said. "I hope he knows, that he can see there's a concentration to throw the ball into him. So with that being the case, getting post-ups in live situations, I think he'll get better and better."

He still would seemingly rank third in the internal pecking order behind the polished Greg Monroe and Josh Smith, whom everyone would like to see more in the post this season. So how many chances he'll get to expand his game remains to be seen.

"I'm very comfortable with the ball," Drummond said. "My teammates have a lot of faith in me when I do get the ball to know I'll make the right decision. Either to score or kick it out for a jump shot."

If he's on the floor with the right personnel — namely Jodie Meeks, Kyle Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, if Caldwell-Pope's improvement holds true — at the least he can draw double teams and help a dimension the Pistons sorely lacked last year, perimeter shooting.

"The guys in the front office did a good job of bringing in really good shooters," Drummond said. "And even at the four spot (camp invitee) Brian Cook and Josh can hit the occasional three, as well. For me, it'll make it fun. I can either score or dish it out for a 3-point spot."

"It's repetition. Day in and out they keep pounding the ball inside for me to make decisions and make mistakes, too. I'm getting better each and every day."

However, after four straight days of two-a-day practices, the only thing Drummond can be sure about is his exclamation that "we'll be the best-conditioned team in the NBA" with the way Van Gundy has put them through the ringer.

He wouldn't let a reporter finish his question when being asked if these practices were the hardest of his professional career.

"Of my life," said Drummond, laughing. "When I go home, I don't even say anything to my mom. I just go to sleep. I'm too tired to use words, I just plop down and pass out."

Then you're reminded he's just 21.

vgoodwill@detroitnews.com

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