Pistons center Andre Drummond dramatically improved his free-throw shooting in advance of the 2017-18 season, and that’s not all, according to guest Duncan Smith.


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The Detroit Pistons have bounced back from an incredibly disappointing 2016-17 campaign to begin this season 14-8. In the process, Detroit is securing come-from-behind victories with great frequency – half of its wins have occurred in games it trailed by double-digits – the second unit is dominating opposing benches and Andre Drummond is showcasing a vastly expanded offensive repertoire. Duncan Smith, contributor to The Athletic Detroit and Bball Breakdown, operates as our tour guide on this exhilarating exploration of the Motor City’s NBA club. We’ll discover how good the Pistons are and where they can still improve. Duncan’s game was clicking on all cylinders. Some highlights are excerpted below:

6:09-7:03: “I think it’s concerning when your starting lineup can’t get you out to good starts, and you need your bench reserves, led by Ish Smith – everybody loves Ish Smith but he is one of the worst shooters in NBA history. When that’s what you’re relying on for stability, it’s a bit problematic, at the very least…When together, they just aren’t effective…I think that’s it’s going to have to be understood and dealt with before long.”

13:32-14:11: “It’s a complete and total shift. Basically everything that we thought we knew about Andre Drummond has kind of gone out the window. And I think that it really calls into question everything we thought about his ceiling. We don’t really know how good he can be anymore, and that’s really exciting too, because I think we kind of had an idea that maybe he would just be one of the best rebounders ever who also isn’t a huge drag on offense. I think that was kind of like our best-case scenario for him coming into the season. And now we see that he’s a pretty big plus offensively, while still being one of the best rebounders ever perhaps, and definitely, I would say, the best rebounder in the NBA today.”

17:32-18:02: “I think a big thing is he [Tobias Harris] is a lot quicker this season. That has had this synergistic effect with his 3-pointer, and it makes it so opposing 4s who are kind of trapped on an island with him on the perimeter, they really have to pick their poison. If they play up close on him, he can get around them with ease. If they give him a step, he’s really, really quick on that 3-point shot. His release has definitely quickened over the course of the last year.”

22:08-23:36: “He [Reggie Jackson] has just been better everywhere basically. The improvements on both ends, I think, have largely just come from getting his athleticism back…He is very much the old Reggie. And he’s able to play third or fourth fiddle on a team that I think league-wide a lot of people thought he had some character issues that would not allow him to be anything but the man. I think that he’s probably happier than he’s ever been on a team where he has to play third or fourth fiddle behind Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley.”

26:31-26:53: “I think part of the Pistons’ success in spite of slow starts and the starting lineup not being great has simply been the bench comes in and then they just mow the other bench to the ground. It’s often like an onslaught. Most nights, it looks like teams of two different tiers on the floor when the Pistons bench takes on another bench.”

38:59-40:20: “The Pistons hard-capped themselves at noon on July 1 for Langston Galloway, who provides you virtually nothing but shooting. Things like that are definitely problematic, but at the same time, you’ve got a guy [in Stan Van Gundy] who turns the shell of Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova into Tobias Harris…Van Gundy doesn’t lose trades, but he makes bad decisions on July 1…I think that he’s demonstrated some knack for the job in not selling low on Reggie Jackson or Andre Drummond, for example. These are things that definitely could’ve happened if Van Gundy wasn’t patient and taking a long view.”


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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod