Pistons' Drummond makes first All-Star Game
Auburn Hills – There was never a doubt in the minds of Reggie Jackson and Stanley Johnson that Andre Drummond would earn his first All-Star Game selection.
The two were proven right when Drummond was as one of seven Eastern Conference All-Star reserves selected Thursday night, making him the first Pistons All-Star since Allen Iverson in 2009.
Reserves for the East and West teams were chosen by the coaches and announced during an hour-long show on TNT.
“I think he should’ve been a starter in my opinion, but you know how that goes,” Johnson said Wednesday on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “I don’t think he’s really concerned about (not starting). We were in New Orleans when we found out he wasn’t going to be a starter. He was more focused on winning the game than worrying about the starting lineups.
“Like I told him before, everything will work for itself. You’ve controlled what you can control by playing basketball at a high level all season. … Us over in Detroit, we’re really confident that he’s still going to make the All-Star Game with ease.”
Drummond is having a career year, averaging 17.3 points and a league-best 15.2 rebounds in 33.7 minutes per game. He leads the league in double-doubles (38) and offensive rebounds (5.3) and ranks second in defensive rebounds (9.9).
The fourth-year center also ranks in the top 20 in field-goal percentage (51.8 percent, 11th), steals (1.74, 13th) and blocks (1.43, tied 16th), but has struggled mightily at the free-throw line, where he’s shooting a career-low 35.5 percent.
Drummond failed to garner enough fan votes to earn a starting spot on the East’s frontcourt, falling short to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George and New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony.
“It’s not a worry,” Jackson said of Drummond’s chances after the team’s practice Thursday. “To me, he’s been robbed. Definitely and undoubtedly he should’ve been a starter. We shouldn’t even be sweating this day at all. If he’s not in, then everybody is a bunch of idiots.
“I think everybody in the NBA knows he should be a starter. So he has to go out there and be on a mission the rest of the season to prove guys wrong. I think we all know he’s going to be in.”
The All-Star Game will take place Feb. 14 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and Jackson already said he’ll be in attendance to support Drummond.
“I’ll be in the building talking trash for him,” Jackson said.
Like Drummond, Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green (Michigan State) will make his first All-Star Game appearance as a reserve for the West.
During a key fourth-quarter stretch that allowed the Pistons to pull away late in Wednesday’s 110-97 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, coach Stan Van Gundy turned to a small lineup with guards Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Johnson and Marcus Morris at the forward positions and Drummond at center.
While it was effective, it was a move Van Gundy made to counter the four perimeter players the 76ers put on the floor. It’s also a lineup Van Gundy doesn’t turn to often because of the job Ersan Ilyasova has done.
“If we’re going to play Marcus more at the four, then we’re going to have to play another perimeter guy rather than one of the fours,” Van Gundy said. “Right now the nine guys we’re playing are our best nine guys. … If I play (Morris) there then either Ersan or (Anthony Tolliver) has to sit down.”
Morris said he’d be open to playing at the four more, if needed.
“I won’t be in the corner as much,” he said. “Sometimes I want to be able to get more involved, mix it up and be able to create for other players.”
Guard Jodie Meeks (right foot) practiced Thursday but was unable to increase his workload, according to Van Gundy, leaving his possible return before the All-Star break up in the air.
… Van Gundy on what the Cavaliers are doing differently under new coach Tyronn Lue, who took over when David Blatt was fired on Jan. 22: “It’s too hard to tell. They’re trying to run more I guess. I don’t think there’s a real noticeable difference in that yet. Those kind of things take time. I’m sure Ty is trying to change some things in the way they do them, but that’ll show itself more over time than it will three games in.”
Cavaliers at Pistons
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Palace, Auburn Hills
Outlook: The Pistons look to string together their third straight win in the first game of a back-to-back against the top two teams in the East. The Pistons won the first meeting at home, 104-99, on Nov. 17…The East-leading Cavs have won four of their last five and are led by LeBron James (24.9 points) and Kevin Love (15.7 points, 10.8 rebounds).