As many people know in the sports world, especially in Detroit, the NBA free agency season will be getting started right after the NBA Draft at the end of June. Which means that as soon as the NBA Finals are over, the talk about who will be signing where will get started. The Detroit Pistons have their guy they will need to pay big money to – Andre Drummond.
Drummond, the center out of UConn, has developed into one of the most dominant big men in the NBA in a time where you don’t find true centers in the league that can make a true impact on the game. Drummond average 16 points & 14 rebounds this season & had multiple games (9) of 20-plus rebound games. He has shown that his defense & rebounding were game changers on a Pistons team that didn’t always have a great offense to lean on & featured many players who were truly learning how to win in clutch situations.
Many fans will talk about how Drummond is one of the worst free throw shooters in NBA history – which is absolutely true – and how teams will go to a hack-a-drummond strategy late in games. At multiple points during the season, Drummond couldn’t be on the floor at all because of his propensity for missing free throws late & teams knowing they could do this down to two minutes left in the quarter. That aside, there aren’t any centers in the league that can currently bring what Drummond does on the defensive & rebounding side of the ball.
If this were the past, say 10-15 years ago, Drummond would not get the major money due to having more dominant big men in the league. But, when thinking about if Drummond is worth the big money, there are a few questions you have to ask? If you didn’t have Drummond, who would be a better replacement?
Dwight Howard? Not even close, especially with the way he has conducted himself during the playoff run with the Houston Rockets this year & how James Harden verbally told Rockets management how he wanted Howard to get dealt before the trade deadline. Since the season ended with the Rockets getting knocked out of the playoffs, Howard has been on an odd media blitz, getting ripped for not having any true love of the game & not asserting himself on a regular basis to be a better big man, even with getting offered help from Hakeem Olajuwon & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when Howard was in Los Angeles. The Pistons don’t need that type of distraction coming into the locker room with a bunch of young guys who need to learn how to win.
Pau Gasol? A nice pick for a forward/center but Gasol will be looking to go to a place where he can win a championship right now. The rumors around the NBA is that Gasol will end up going to the Clippers or the San Antonio Spurs, with the Spurs sounding more likely because they already have a system in place to succeed. Plus, Gasol is on the tail end of his career where he may have only 2-3 more years left in the league. Drummond is on the rise & will only get better as time goes on.
Joakim Noah? His knees are beat up right now because of his aggressive style of play. Definitely not going to be a guy who is going to be as intense of a defensive stopper as Drummond is.
Which now leaves us with Andre Drummond or Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat. Whiteside is the better shot blocker, while Drummond is the superior rebounder. Andre has more overall size than Whiteside & a big reason why we can’t see Whiteside coming to Detroit for the Pistons would be because the Miami Heat are going to try to make a play for Kevin Durant or another big superstar this summer & have Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh (if he can come back from the blood clot issue) & another superstar be the focal point around another superteam that can make a run in the east.
Ahh, the NBA Eastern Conference – a conference that is truly open & ripe for the taking. Why can’t one of those teams that makes a run at the Cleveland Cavs & Toronto Raptors be the Detroit Pistons? The team is clearly looking to build around Drummond & point guard Reggie Jackson as the main offense/defense combination for years to come here. The Pistons made major strides in 2015-16 by having Jackson & Drummond together. While the rest of the team was young & inconsistent at many points during the season, the team will have the extra money to lure players to come in & convince Drummond that Detroit is going to be a potential player in the East.
Drummond is a player that the Pistons have to have in the long run, simply because there aren’t going to be any big men in the league right now that can be a true nightmare on the defensive end & give your team extra possessions like he does. If the Pistons are going to go all in & make Drummond a max player, the team will be absolutely within its right to demand that Drummond get better at the free throw line & develop some more post moves to be a true, elite center. The Pistons have never been a team that has been huge on paying NBA max money for a player, however, a player of Andre Drummond’s skills & style hasn’t been seen in this town since the days of Dennis Rodman. Remember, Rodman couldn’t shoot much either, but we needed his defense & that is where he made his bread & butter. It will be the same with Andre Drummond.
The new economics of the NBA show that you have to spend in order to truly be a contender in the league, whether a player is truly worth it or not. Drummond is not a trouble-maker, he doesn’t embarrass the city or the franchise on or off the court & he is a dominant center who is a couple of steps away from being the best center in the entire league. Yes, he has to get his free throw situation together & be a guy who is reliable in crunch time, but honestly, what big man in the league is a whiz at the free throw line? Not many. But teams that do have even an average big guy that can be serviceable pay out big money for them because functional centers who are the on the upside of their career are rare. Drummond is a rare case right now, so Detroit Pistons, its time to pay up to ensure the future of the team.
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