Drummond set to return Pistons' All-Star luster
Auburn Hills — From 1982-2010, the Pistons were represented in the NBA All-Star Game all but three years.
And that's including 1999, when the game was canceled due to the league's lockout.
The team has since endured a five-year drought, failing to send a single All-Star to the mid-season spectacle. But according to the latest All-Star Game voting results released Thursday, Andre Drummond is on pace to bring that streak to an end.
Drummond has garnered the third-most votes (261,158) among Eastern Conference frontcourt players — trailing Cavaliers' Lebron James and Pacers' Paul George while holding a slight edge over Knicks' Carmelo Anthony — an indication that fans have taken notice of his offensive emergence and monster season to date.
Entering Saturday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, Drummond leads the league in offensive (5.5), defensive (10.2) and total rebounds (15.7) a game, as well as double-doubles (30).
He also is tied for ninth in field-goal percentage (52.3 percent), and ranks 14th in blocked shots (1.5), 15th in steals (1.78) and 16th in field goals made (7.6), giving the fourth-year center an irrefutable bid to earn his first All-Star selection and become the first Pistons representative since Allen Iverson in 2010.
“He's made a great case. To be the leading rebounder in the league by that much, scoring 18 a game and the team is winning more, I think that's key,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I think he has an extremely strong case.”
Teammate Reggie Jackson checked in at No. 10 among guards with his own solid resume, but faces an uphill battle as the final week of voting approaches.
Jackson ranks in the top 25 in points (19.8, 22nd) and assists (6.4, 12th), but trails Charlotte's Jeremy Lin (12.0 ppg, 3.2 apg), Chicago's Derrick Rose (14.6, 5.1) and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving (16.9, 3.8) by a wide margin despite posting better numbers.
Boston's Isaiah Thomas (20.7, 6.8) sits at No. 9 with 87,452 votes, nearly twice as much as Jackson's 44,525.
“I definitely think he's deserving. I said the other night the problem at that position is it looks like Kyrie will maybe get voted in although he hasn't played much,” Van Gundy said. “And you got guys like (John) Wall and (Jeff) Teague who were All-Stars last year and still are having good years. (Kyle) Lowry was also an All-Star last year who's having an outstanding year.
“Then you got Reggie and Isaiah Thomas both in their first full year as starters who are having great years. There's no way all six of those guys are going into the All-Star Game. I don't know what's going to happen, but I know (Jackson's) having an All-Star year.”
Throughout much of the season, the Pistons have been searching for consistency at both ends of the floor.
But over the past four games, the defense has settled into a groove and limited opponents to 91.8 points, nearly eight points fewer than its season average (99.3).
“We've played four good defensive games in a row, so that's a positive thing. We'll see how long we can stay on it,” Van Gundy said. “These guys have done a good job when we ask them to concentrate on an area. They're pretty good, but then maybe something else slips.
“We've got to get to where, again, it's a consistency issue in our approach. I thought we did a great job in our help defense in the Orlando game and did a really poor job with our help defense in the Boston game.”
Jackson added that there's also been better defensive communication among players during the recent stretch.
“We're just talking to each other and there's a want to protect each other,” he said. “I think we're playing individual defense pretty well. Others struggle a little bit, but we're trying to find a way to protect each other and get stops.”
James Hawkins is a freelance writer.