Drummond lags on defense but his rebounding is special

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

News: Where does Andre Drummond rank among the Pistons’ greatest rebounders?

Views: Drummond is the best. I always thought Dennis Rodman was until now. I always placed Rodman ahead of Ben Wallace, who was a great rebounder and defender.

Drummond trumps Rodman because the guy is so strong. His hands are like giant suction cups. Drummond is a positional and instinctive rebounder. He is almost always in the right spot and he anticipates where the ball is going.

Rodman was strong but Drummond is like Superman. Here is another advantage he has over Rodman: Drummond is 6-foot-11 and lost weight and gained muscle. Rodman stood 6-8 and although he’d give Drummond trouble on the boards, he is just not big enough to hold him off, although he was a workout freak and was a lot stronger than you might think.

Rodman and Wallace are a bit ahead of Drummond in anticipating rebounds. Rodman was moving toward where he thought the ball was going upon the release from the shooter. Teammates also gave him an edge in that they blocked out others to give Rodman a chance at the ball.

Where Drummond lags is on defense. Rodman and Big Ben were the best defenders in Pistons history. Drummond is learning.

News: Drummond began the season with 11 consecutive double-doubles in scoring and rebounding. How difficult is that?

Views: I never played in the NBA but Fox Sports Detroit analyst Grant Long did for 15 years. Long said the benchmark for rebounding is grabbing 20 boards, which he did three times in his career. Drummond already has done it three times this season, including 29 boards against Indiana. Long did it once against idol Charles Oakley and said he expended every ounce of energy in his system.

“I remember how hard I had to work to get it,” Long said. “I was undersized and I did not have the strength that Andre has, but I remember how hard it was. I got my 20 and felt like I played in 20 games. He makes it look easy but it is very tough to do.”

Here is what else Long said of Drummond.

“Rebounding is a matter of effort,” he said. “If you are going to put the work in and you have the height and strength and other things to go with it, you can achieve that. I think that is where Andre is. He has a determination to outwork everybody else.”

He failed to get a double-double against the Washington Wizards Saturday night but Washington center Marcin Gortat said he sensed that Drummond lacked energy after playing the second game of a back-to-back and battling upper respiratory problems.

News: What could hold the Pistons back from making the playoffs this season?

Views: That’s easy. The bench is their downfall because there is no scoring and those guys don’t play good defense. The Pistons always had sparks during their championship days. Vinnie Johnson and James Edwards were sparks off the bench.

The 2004 championship team had Corliss Williamson, Mike James and Lindsey Hunter. The most dependable guy on this team is Spencer Dinwiddie, but his job is to run the team and not score.

Rookie Stanley Johnson must be that guy. However, he’s in a tough spot because he must learn to let the game come to him, which takes time. He tries to make things happen too quickly and often gets in trouble.

So what is the solution?

Meeks and Jennings. You cannot rely on Meeks helping out until the spring. But Jennings appears quick and is moving from side to side better during workouts. However, the Pistons cannot rush him. He is coming off an Achilles tear which required surgery. You must guard against reinjuring it.

The Pistons talk about bringing him back around Christmas, but it will take a while for him to shake off the rust. The ideal solution is to play Dinwiddie at point, Jennings at two guard and Johnson at the three. That is a pretty good bench that can score a few points.

News: The Pistons are around .500 and hovering around a low playoff spot. Is this a playoff team?

Views: I am sticking to my guns and saying no, even though they are playing pretty good ball. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is playing his starters too many minutes and eventually we are going to see a dropoff. However, if Jennings can be that spark off the bench and play as he did last season, then the Pistons could make the playoffs.

As currently constructed I believe they will eventually wear down.