Drummond takes deep breath, is ready to tackle season
Auburn Hills — Pistons center Andre Drummond can breathe a little easier now.
After sinus surgery to rectify his deviated septum in the offseason, he’s feeling like a brand-new player and he’s feeling the positive impact already.
More than that, though, Drummond, is bringing a new attitude into his sixth season in the NBA. He’s realizing that his impact on the team and his energy can be the biggest boost that any player is bringing from a summer of development.
“I’m 24 now and I’ve been in the league for six years. Over the time, I’ve matured and things are becoming more serious,” Drummond said at media day on Monday. “I was a kid — just 17 or 18 — coming into a lot of money and having fun playing basketball.
“At the end of the day, this is still a business and maturity is something that was necessary. This year was a good year to lock in and be a professional.”
Though Drummond has been one of the best rebounders in the league over the past couple years, his energy and effort have been questioned. Coach Stan Van Gundy and fans are clamoring for more consistent, energetic play, for a bigger part of the season.
Even when he’s not scoring, Drummond can have a bigger impact on the defensive end, which in turn pushes his teammates. And that goes a distance in helping the Pistons get back to being the playoff team it appeared to be becoming, instead of the 37-win group that floundered last season.
“Energy is something I can bring every night. It doesn’t require a skill or anything besides hard work,” Drummond said. “That’s something I can and will bring — hard work, energy and effort — to propel my team to where we need to be.”
Some of that improved energy will come from carrying around less weight. Drummond said he shed about 30 pounds and plans on playing at about 285 this season. His improved breathing and frame should make things easier, but the biggest change could come from within, with a better mental approach.
“The year I had last year is not who I was. That’s not the player I’m supposed to be,” Drummond said. “I took that slap as it’s time to wake up. There’s no time to (mess around) because everybody’s window is short in this league. You don’t last 20 years.”
Part of taking things more seriously is changing his diet and monitoring what he eats more actively — and breathing easier doesn’t hurt, either.
“I’m moving faster, jumping higher and I feel great overall. It’s something I’m proud of myself for taking the time and grinding through the surgery. A lot of conditioning I did this summer to get myself in tip-top shape,” he said. “(Maintaining it) comes with eating habits, changing the stuff I eat.
“I’m not going to be able to run every day like I did in the summertime. The stuff I put in my body is going to help me keep that weight down and keep myself energized and ready to play.”
Besides Reggie Jackson’s return from knee tendinitis issues, the Pistons have a couple of minor injuries as they start training camp Tuesday. Langston Galloway (bone bruise) and Drummond (sprained ankle) have lingering injuries that will limit them early in camp.
“Langston hasn’t done any contact work. He had a bone bruise in his knee in August, so they had him off it for three or four weeks,” Van Gundy said. “He felt great after that, but looking at the MRI, the bone bruise hadn’t healed. They held him out of September. He’s cleared to go but hasn’t done anything in a long time and trying to reduce inflammation in the knee.”
Van Gundy added that he and head trainer Jon Ishop are working on a way to ease Galloway back into the playing rotation without putting too much strain on him.
Drummond’s ankle sprain isn’t serious, but he could miss some of the two-a-day practices this week if his condition doesn’t improve.
“Andre sprained an ankle at the end of last week in a one-on-one thing with Eric Moreland after he landed wrong,” Van Gundy said. “There’s no major damage. He’s planning to go at least in the morning in the non-contact practice. I don’t know if he’ll be available for the first couple days when we go 5-on-5 at night.”