Denver — Andre Drummond isn’t just a rebounder anymore. The narrative about the Pistons center in his first six seasons was that he was limited offensively and was a poor free-throw shooter, which made him an easy choice to foul, especially in games.
That’s changed now.
In the last 24 games, Drummond has posted impressive numbers: 18.8 points, 16.4 rebounds, 17.5 steals, 1.6 blocks and 59 percent on field goals — and most impressively, 70 percent on free throws.
It’s a bigger sample size, which seems to suggest that it’s no fluke and that Drummond is evolving as a player, becoming more efficient and looking more like a player who will be a long-term piece whom the Pistons can build around, along with Blake Griffin.
“Andre has improved immensely, and I’ve watched him grow and the mistakes he’s not making,” coach Dwane Casey said. “His screening has improved immensely. A lot of things he’s improved on are going to pay off for us. This summer, understanding what we’re looking for is going to help too.”
Casey wouldn’t elaborate on what areas the Piston would like to see Drummond improve, but he didn’t rule out 3-point shooting, which was a minor focus heading into this season. Drummond already has shown better strength and presence inside and is finding his spots for offensive rebounds.
He leads the league again in rebounding (15.4), for the third time in the last four years but he’s also rounding out his skill set with improved on-ball defense, guarding perimeter players and reducing some of his mistakes.
“Just like (against Portland), he goes out and how many pick-and-rolls he sets and how many blitzes with (Damian) Lillard. That is work,” Casey said. “To run and seal and don’t get it and still have the gumption and the want-to to get back out and set another screen and move and get to the offensive board.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked and more. He’s just scratching the surface of the player he can be and is going to be. I’m really proud of the growth Andre has made.”
Since the All-Star break, Griffin’s numbers have dipped a bit, as teams have figured out different ways to defend him and make other Pistons take on more of the scoring load. Casey has implemented other plays to involve other players but it’s also helped make the offense more versatile.
“They’re double-teaming a lot more and bringing it across the baseline. That means it should trigger something else, another play for someone else to get another shot,” Casey said. “If they’re committing two (defenders) to him in the post, somebody’s open and that’s what we want to play out of.
“It’s not about Blake’s numbers — it’s about Pistons scoring. That’s the way we have to look at it as a team.”
The Pistons will host their fourth-annual PRIDE Night at Thursday’s game against the Orlando Magic at Little Caesars Arena, in a partnership with the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
Players will wear PRIDE shooting shirts and will host LGBTQ youth in pregame. A PRIDE Night ticket package, which includes a reception, game ticket, T-shirt and post-game meet-and-greet with Michigan swimming team alum G Ryan.
The package also includes an opportunity to participate in a special Pistons PRIDE halftime performance. PRIDE Night ticket packages can be purchased at www.pistons.com/PRIDE.