Big Time Big Man

Drummond proving Pistons right even as he just scratches the surface

Andre Drummond reminds George Blaha of the Pistons' big men of the past.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
Not long after the Pistons drafted Andre Drummond, I remember talking to George David, assistant general manager for the Pistons. And I told George that I’d heard what Joe D said about Andre on draft night – that all reports were this was a very bright kid, not just a physically gifted player.

George confirmed that to me. He said that over the summer, when they would go over every segment of the game with Andre and then go back and retest him, he’d get almost every answer right the first time. He said that was extremely rare for a rookie and exceptionally rare for somebody who was only 18 years old at the time and is now just 19.

Andre is a very bright guy. And if you spend any time around him, you know he wants to do the right thing and he wants to learn. He appears to be extremely coachable. Those are all major pluses for somebody in his situation. Not only that, George told me that their goal for Andre was for him to do what he does best as well as he can and as often as he can and that if he could just do that, he would be a legitimate NBA big man almost immediately.

I think we’ve already seen he’s all of that. And that’s kind of understating what this guy has done, because to me, on certain nights, he has been absolutely spectacular. I see Andre Drummond lining up someday as one of the best big men in our league. I don’t think that’s a reach – I don’t think it’s even close to a reach.

Andre reminds me, to a certain degree, of a young Dennis Rodman. I remember working with Dick Motta and during a preseason telecast during Dennis’ rookie year, Dick said on the air that this guy is going to be one of the best rebounders in our league. Then, a couple of weeks later, early in the regular season, he said to me – again, on the air – Dennis Rodman is going to be the best rebounder in our league since Bill Russell.

When you look at what Dennis was able to accomplish as a rebounder, Dick Motta was right on. The guy I work with these days, Gregory Kelser, raves about Andre’s ability to get after the offensive glass, which was of the things Dennis did so well. Andre is already in my opinion, and the numbers bear it out, an elite offensive rebounder and an elite shot-blocker. He’s not being asked to do a lot of things offensively, but I tell you what: He can play above the rim and deal with lob dunks with anybody in the league.

Will Bynum loves being on the court with him, as anybody who’s seen the Pistons play knows. He’s been a major bright spot for this team. The bench has sparked this team in the last couple of weeks – it’s been impossible to deal with for a lot of teams – and one of the reasons is Andre Drummond. The Pistons, I believe, are still going to be in the running for one of the playoff spots – and you can credit Andre for a lot of that. He’s big time.

Andre is one of those big men who come along only once in a while. When I look out on the floor some nights, I see somebody whose frame reminds me of a young Bob Lanier. He’s that big and he’s that long. Bob was a Hall of Famer and it’s too early to compare Andre to Bob, but there are certainly some similarities in terms of stature.

Bob was very physical, yet he had an unbelievable touch and he was a great competitor and a very cerebral player. Before all is said and done, we’re going to talk about Andre as a cerebral player and as a physical player and we’ve signs of that already. When he’s determined to get a stop, sometimes he’ll play right through somebody and he’s so strong, he can go right through them.

Same thing with Bob and also another physical Pistons center with a different style, Bill Laimbeer. You need to know that guy is there and that there are only certain things you can do against a center of that stature. What the Bob Laniers, Bill Laimbeers and Ben Wallaces did inside was intimidate, to a certain degree, the other guy’s big men.

Pistons fans are eager to see Andre and Greg Monroe playing side by side and we know that’s the future. I know one thing: Both are really good people and both want to do what’s best for the team. I don’t think you’ll have a clash of egos at all when these two are on the floor.

What we know about Greg Monroe is he’s a fundamentally sound, intelligent basketball player, and what we know about Andre Drummond is he has great physical ability and is a very bright young man still learning the NBA game.

They will find a way to co-exist with Greg’s ability to play away from the basket and pass the ball, along with his scoring and rebounding skills. I think they could be a great set of big men.

I don’t think too many teams will have a pair of guys on the court like those two and we’ve seen it in the few minutes they’ve been able to play together so far this season. It’s already taking shape and I think they’ll do very well together. It should be a fun decade or more ahead of Pistons basketball watching these two young big men grow up together.