Is Drummond fit to be the franchise cornerstone?


Are we ready to move forward with Andre Drummond as the face of the franchise?

This question is probably being asked one year too late.

Every move that has been made over the last 12 months has been with an eye on the future centered around the 6-foot-11 franchise cornerstone. Tom Gores went out and hired a coach in May of 2014 who had success with a franchise center with similar size and skill set. Gores even gave him a dual-role of coach and President of Basketball Operations so he could construct his ideal roster around this young, promising center.

Fast-forward to December of the 2014-15 season. The highest paid player on the team is waived in Josh Smith, due to his lack of fit alongside the two big men that currently stalk the lane in Drummond and Monroe. As the season went along, it became painfully obvious that those two young big men would not be able to coexist on a winning team–not that this was unexpected given what we had seen from the two in limited minutes. In this pace and space era of basketball, you have to have at least one big man who can bring some semblance of spacing on the floor.

So, what do the Pistons do? Make it clear they have no interest in re-signing Greg Monroe to open up more space for their true prize, Drummond. To be fair, Van Gundy said multiple times that re-signing Monroe was a priority this offseason, but that was never going to be legitimately considered.

RELATED: Should the Pistons have tried to re-sign Greg Monroe

So what do the Pistons do now? First, let’s start with the good news.

Drummond is undoubtedly an elite rebounder. In fact, his rebounding numbers on the offensive end have been downright historic. His offensive rebounding percentage during the 2014-15 season was 18.3%, according to To put that in perspective, DeAndre Jordan–the leading rebounder for the last two NBA seasons– checked in at a 16.2 OffReb%. And make no mistake about it- this was not about Monroe opening up the lane for Drummond to rebound. Because the 21-year old behemoth also pulled down 49.1% of contested rebound opportunities.

He’s a man among boys.

Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Another positive aspect of Drummond’s game is his ability to finish in the pick and roll. This is mostly due to his unique athleticism; commanding incredible size, speed, strength, and jumping ability.

There aren’t many players who can boast the combination that Drummond possesses. Drummond remains a legitimate threat to terrorize the lane (and the basketball support system) on every single offensive possession.

Here comes the bad news– I won’t spend much time be-laboring the free throw woes or the offensively anemic game outside of 8 feet from the basket– the free throws need to get better. Shooting at least 50% from the stripe would give opponents more pause of whether to immediately foul him or not.

It’s safe to say that Drummond will never be a polished offensive player.

But maybe the Pistons don’t need him to be.

Stan Van Gundy knows Drummond will never have the interior post game that Greg Monroe sported during his time with the Pistons, but he also recognizes that Drummond has the tools to be an elite center because of what he can do in other aspects of the game– other aspects that have real value. Those tools are summed up in Drummond’s physical attributes.

For all of the talk about Drummond’s athleticism–The size, speed, and strength– we have yet to see that translate to the defensive end of the floor.

That said, Drummond has shown good block numbers–though that is such a small aspect of defense that can be indicative of ones role on the defense–registering eighth in the league last season at 1.9 blocks per game.

His affinity to carelessly jump at any and every shot has led to continuous foul trouble, which takes him off the floor. Stan Van Gundy repeatedly referenced Drummond’s need to play better positional defense throughout the season, and Drummond noticeably grew in this area.

But does he have the drive to be elite on that end? Athleticism is one thing. Desire is another. And moreso than any other aspect of basketball, defense takes desire.

Drummond shows that desire at times, and is an absolute monster on the defensive end. He also takes possessions off during games–and sometimes they are key possessions. His defense must improve if he’s to live up to this five year $120 million dollar contract extension being discussed happens.

Could Drummond be worth every bit of his rumored five year, $120 millon extension? Absolutely.

Are there legitimate questions that need to be answered before we say without a doubt that he’s worth that money? Absolutely.

Drummond could become a player with similar impact to that of 2007-10 Dwight Howard. He already terrorizes opponents on the boards, and he has the tools to do so on the defensive end. But will he continue to grow in ways that he very well can? Does he have the drive to go from a good to great player that so few players with his talent ever reach?

The Pistons’ future depends on it. And it looks as though Tom Gores, Stan Van Gundy, and the Pistons’ Front Office believes he will. Only time will tell.