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. Continue reading
Feldman calls Drummond the best Piston since Chauncey Billups but recognizes that there are still improvements to be made (Keith Allison/Flickr).
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Last time Dan Feldman of NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk joined the podcast, he detailed the Pistons’ inconsistency. Again, a season later, Feldman breaks down the team’s streakiness and many other salient issues, including Stan Van Gundy’s unique brand of leadership, Reggie Jackson’s improving play, and why star center Andre Drummond can, at times, be so frustrating to watch. Here are some excerpts to get your engine revving:
1:50-1:58: During the recent 3-9 skid: “The entire difference almost was defensively. They went from defending like, give or take, the best team in the league to defending like the worst team in the league.”
7:55-8:27: “One thing that is helping [Tobias Harris] is that when you start the game, the Pistons want to get touches for Reggie Jackson. They want to get Marcus Morris involved. They’re running more plays for KCP. They’re running more plays for Andre Drummond. They’ve got to get all these guys involved… When [Tobias Harris] comes off the bench, it’s his turn to get involved. There’s no ambiguity of, ‘Hey is it my turn or is it somebody else’s turn?’ When he comes in, it’s his turn; he can get going and get into a rhythm. He’s a talented player and a good scorer and when he’s the focal point, that’s something that works for him.”
23-year-old shooting guard Bradley Beal has nearly equaled his age in points per game, as the Wizards continue their stellar play (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
While nine teams held the same ranking from our previous edition, six squads rose or dropped at least six spots. Leading the way among most improved from last edition, the Washington Wizards jumped from 22nd to 12th. Thanks to lethal 3-point shooting, the Rockets continued their ascent to fourth even as starting center Clint Capela will be sidelined for the next month at the very least. The Nuggets also impressed the panel, playing extremely well in their first stretch as a completely healthy unit. The returns of Danilo Gallinari and Gary Harris have Denver fans feeling as high as their city’s altitude. The Lakers, however, continue their slide and can no longer use injury as the lone excuse for dropping 11 of their last 12 games. Since our second edition, which was published four weeks ago, the Lakers have dropped from 13th to 27th or seven spots every two weeks.
Biggest Jumps: Washington Wizards (+10), Denver Nuggets (+7), Dallas Mavericks (+6)
Biggest Falls: Los Angeles Lakers (-7), Portland Trail Blazers (-7), Detroit Pistons (-7) Continue reading