Van Gundy seeks energy from Pistons' Drummond

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Last season, Andre Drummond’s numbers against the Chicago Bulls were eye-popping. In four games, he averaged 19.3 points and 17 rebounds, including two games with 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds.

Drummond posted a career-high 33 points and added 21 rebounds in 54 minutes in the four-overtime marathon on Dec. 18, 2015, at the United Center and also had 20 points and 20 rebounds in 39 minutes two months earlier.

This season has been a different story.

Drummond is averaging just 12 points and seven rebounds in the first two meetings, with only nine points and four rebounds on Dec. 19 at Chicago. Some of it has been early foul trouble — Drummond has 25 and 23 minutes in the two matchups — but it’s also due to the Bulls’ acquisition of Robin Lopez to man the middle.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said he hasn’t had a specific conversation with Drummond about the importance of staying out of foul trouble, but it’s a bigger issue about bringing the same energy that Drummond has brought on both ends of the court, especially in the last two games.

“You don’t want anybody in foul trouble; it disrupts a lot of what you’re doing,” Van Gundy said Monday. “We certainly need him out there and we need him playing like he’s played the last two games, in terms of his effort and activity.

“Robin Lopez has been a guy who’s played him well. Robin’s a tough guy who plays with great energy. The main thing is he’s got to match his energy tonight. He’s capable of doing it, but he’s got to bring it, because Robin is going to bring a ton of energy.”

Drummond’s energy early in games has been a harbinger of his production in games and Van Gundy is looking to draw more of that out — on a more consistent basis.

“He’s capable of playing and we’ve seen times where he plays at a high energy level that’s virtually unstoppable for other teams. Then there’s times where he doesn’t bring that; in his case, it’s a maturity thing of bringing it every night,” Van Gundy said. “There are some guys who are lower-energy guys. For Andre, it’s an up-and-down thing, so there is hope that as he matures, we get that on a more consistent basis.

“When he brings great energy, he’s going to have a huge impact on the game, with his energy, if nothing else.”

The Pistons have split the last two games, at the New Orleans Pelicans and at the Philadelphia 76ers, but Drummond has been more active on defense, especially, adding four steals and three blocks to his 14 points and 14 rebounds Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Drummond also was called for three goaltending calls, which on the surface could seem like a negative, but it also shows that he’s going after the ball and trying to alter shots — not all bad, after all.

“On the glass and rolling hard to the rim — it’s on both ends. When we get great energy, it’s a huge impact on our team,” Van Gundy said. “He was active and going after shots and that changes the game. We want to see that on a more consistent basis. He’s capable of being a very good shot blocker and rim protector.

“He hasn’t been that to this point in his career. He had a game against Cleveland and in the playoffs last year. With Andre, on the defensive end, it’s a consistency of that type of effort.”