Season Recap/Notes: Andre Drummond.

In case you missed it, here is Marcus Morris' recap, and you can follow on the links to the other starters from there.

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Follow along with any and all stats on basketball reference right here.Any stats that are not readily available there will be linked or otherwise noted.

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The free throws:

I am just going to start with this to get it out of the way. It is a big problem, but will probably be less of a problem going forward with a rules change (apparently) imminent and Andre being fairly likely to improve somewhat. (he can't really get worse.) HOWEVA, point being is that he must improve. Even if there is a great rule change, if he can't shoot free throws teams will foul him whenever he gets the ball and it will hamstring his game. I am not going to touch on this much more over the rest of the post because I like to think that I generally bring up stuff that is not too obvious. This is obvious and there is no wise insight I can give to help explain it. He must improve, and he either will or he won't. It's just that simple. So for the rest of this post, I'm going to look at his season other than free throws, because we all know the free throws were really bad.

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The Good:

Take your pick. Because there was a lot of good for Andre this season. He led the NBA in rebounding at 14.8 per game, scored 16.2 points per game on 52.2% from the field, was tied for 2nd in the NBA in defensive win shares, was an all star, and the best player on a playoff team. Not bad for a 22 year old. HOWEVA, it is tough to judge Andre on just the basic stats because he is such a unique player, and his impact/value is pretty unique. So for instance, even though he scored 16.2 points per game, his biggest offensive value is actually the way that he is able to suck defenders into the paint when he rolls to the hoop. Those half floaters-half hooks that Reggie loves to throw from just outside the restricted area are largely created by Andre's rolls to the hoop. And Andre gets a bigger amount of the credit for the deadly Jackson/Drummond PnR. Reggie is really good, and is great at attacking the holes that Andre creates, but it should be clear that Andre is usually the one creating the holes for Reggie, not the other way around. Andre did have his lowest TS% of his career but that is purely due to him shooting lots more free throws, his on court scoring was an improvement on last season even though he took more shots than ever before, and an even larger number of them were from the post. On his rebounding, some have pointed to his Offensive rebounding % dropping, while his defensive % (if you don't know, rebounding % is the % of missed shots you rebound while on the floor. It is a better/more accurate representation of how good a rebounder you are because it eliminates how much time you are on the floor and how many missed shots there are. so if there are 100 missed shots while Andre is on the floor, and he gets 33 rebounds. He has a total rebounding % of 33%.) improved by a lot, suggesting that he only improved his rebounding by adding gimmes on the defensive end. First off that is false just because defensive rebounds are still a valuable part of defense and Andre was the best in the NBA at it, but also because teams were so terrified of Andre that they put almost comical amounts of attention to keeping him off the offensive glass. This is clearly shown in that the Pistons were the 2nd best offensive rebounding team in the NBA, while also allowing the fewest fast break points in the NBA. That is not supposed to be able to happen, plain and simple. (That is probably my favorite Andre stat) Also a nice throw in, despite playing more minutes than ever before in his career, he fouled less than ever before by a pretty decent margin. Straight up, dude improved a ton this season.

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The not as good:

I call this the not as good because I'm going to talk about his defense, and his defense was not bad. The bad is his free throws, and that has been covered. So despite him being tied for 2nd in the NBA in defensive win shares, that is a little bit misleading. Defensive win shares is naturally slanted towards big men, (which is correct to do btw) and also loves steals. Andre is a big man who gets lots of steals. Rebounding is also an important stat for defensive win shares (which once again, is correct to be so) which Andre is the best in the NBA at. All these combine to make Andre someone that the Defensive win shares stat would love. But it does not take a genius to know that Andre was not really tied for 2nd most valuable defensive player in the NBA. (Although it should make everyone who says Andre is not a good defender shut up, because he is very good. Just not that good.) Andre was put into a very new position on defense and it was pretty demanding, the Pistons had no one (who he ever would play along side) who was any sort of a rim protector, and the Pistons perimeter defense was actually a bit leakier than a lot of people would like to admit. SVG went with a very conservative defensive scheme that asked Andre to not leave the paint for any reason ever. So when it seemed weird that jump shooting bigs seemed to do so well against the Pistons, that was not Andre, that was SVG. Which even if I don't totally agree with it, I understand it. (SVG would rather have Andre sit back a bit and give a jumper to opposing centers and still be able to clean the glass/protect the rim than really guard them.) The Pistons perimeter defense was too leaky because they, like Andre, struggled a bit to adjust to the new scheme. The idea is that you overplay the 3 ball, and have your bigs stay in the paint, to encourage mid range jumpers. (This is the basis of Tom Thibodeau's awesome defensive schemes) The perimeter guys would often overplay the 3s a little bit too much and allow too much separation from their guys. (How many times did Andre go to contest a shot just to have an opposing player grab the board?) This resulted in the defense being "Funnel everything into Andre in the paint" instead of "force them into mid range jumpers" more often than not. I say all of this because I think Andre actually did pretty well overall, he got a ton of steals for a big guy, still cleaned the glass really effectively, and is a freaking monster 1 on 1 defender. (He might legitimately be the most devastating 1 on 1 defender in the NBA right now.) HOWEVA, he did reach for steals too often, even if it resulted in him getting a lot of them and he is quick enough to usually recover, and he jumped for a lot of blocks that he had no chance at, and would shy away from contact a little bit too much in efforts to avoid fouls. So even though I do think that his shortcomings on defense are totally understandable, they were still shortcomings. He has the tools to be the best defender in the NBA, by a pretty wide margin. He needs better concentration to avoid mental mistakes. This season I am totally willing to largely give him a pass due to all of the circumstances, but it will be very worth watching next season because if he has not started to iron out some of his shortcomings on defense it will be time to really start worrying.

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Biggest Answer?

He can take a bigger load and still be a monster. He is not a very dangerous one, but he is a weapon in the post, he can be the one man wrecking crew on the boards. The biggest worry is that when you have a young guy who is deemed "The future" that when they finally get the chance to be the guy, they fall flat. Andre did not fall flat. He passed with flying colors, he still has stuff to iron out, but he's 22. He's younger than Frank Kaminsky is. There are guys who are coming out of college following their senior years that will be older/the same age as him right now. The future is bright. The big question coming into the season for Andre was not if he could perfect everything, it was if he could continue to improve, and he absolutely did.

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Biggest Question?

Free throws obviously. Can he iron out the mental mistakes on defense. And can he continue to improve/stay super focused after getting his big payday? I see no reason why he can't do that, but it is a question still. He still has a few years to get there, but he is not to his celieng yet, at least he better not be, for the Pistons sake. So what is needed is continued improvement. Can he make those flashes of brilliant passing into him just flat out being a really good passer? Can he take the not terribly scary but still weapon post moves and make them into a weapon that is so dangerous you have to take a 6 month safety course to use it? Once again, he won't be a finished product for at least several more years, but more progress needs to be seen each year.

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Ben Wallace:

I have seen people compare Andre to Ben Wallace, and also occasionally to Dennis Rodman. (Less Rodman probably because most of the internet is not old enough to really remember Rodman on the Pistons I would guess. Me included.) Stop this. I know that both Wallace and Rodman were maniacs who played balls out all the time. But what were they asked to do? Play defense and rebound. Other people created the offense and scored. This is what makes Andre so insane. Almost all the really great rebounders are guys who are basically only asked to be rebounders. Andre is the center of what the Pistons do on offense as well as defense. It is totally unfair to compare them. Andre may well end up being a better defender than Wallace (doubtful but he has the tools for it.) but it is totally unfair to compare them because Andre is asked to do, and in fact does, way more for the team than Wallace ever was. It's a dumb comparison. (Especially since Andre is probably already better than Ben was.)

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The verdict for this year and beyond?

The future is bright. I believe in Andre Drummond. Because whether any of us like it or not, Andre is the future, and the Pistons will go as far as Andre takes them. So I will be willfully optimistic that he will become a really good post player who can hit hooks, dunk, and pass from the post. Still terrify opponents in the pick and roll. And be the best defensive player in the NBA. He might not actually achieve all of this, but I'm going to hope for it, and so far, he has made enough progress that it is not totally foolish to hope for it. So until that changes, I'm going to keep believing in it.

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Why are you always so defensive of Andre?

He is probably the best player to put on a Pistons jersey since Grant Hill, and possibly since Isaiah Thomas. And he actually wants to be here too. It's a long ways off, but he could have a chance to be right by Isaiah as the greatest Piston ever. He has flaws and its fine to point them out. But it upsets me the way people (of any teams) treat their stars sometimes. Andre is a special player, and all some people can do is complain about this or that. I think people should spend more time appreciating that we get to watch this guy play. That's why I'm defensive.

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What do you think? What was the best thing you saw from Andre this season? What about the worst? Let me know! We all get smarter!

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If you want to help support me over here in China, you can still do that right here. You are all lovely people and the trip has gone awesome. Watching these playoff games in the morning over breakfast is something that I had no idea that I was missing out on.