A Bright Future

Monroe, Drummond’s promise overshadows disappointing record

George Blaha sees Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe contributing largely to the Pistons in the coming years.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
If someone had missed our Pistons season and wanted a brief recap, I would tell them that the schedule brutalized the Pistons right out of the gate. We started at home with a narrow loss to a much-improved Houston Rockets team and there they were – sent out West to play six straight games in nine days. When you start the season 0-8, it’s really difficult to right the ship, despite the fact it’s an 82-game season.

There were many peaks and valleys after that. The Pistons had to play a compact schedule because we had the privilege of playing in England – and it was a privilege. It was a wonderful trip for our players and coaches and a lot of people in the Pistons family, but the schedule was compacted before and after that trip and it was grueling.

There are a couple of reasons why the Pistons’ record is not going to be what a lot of us had hoped it would be. But there were bright spots – incredible bright spots. I’d start with Andre Drummond. Rod Thorn, who has forgotten more basketball than most of us have ever known and is retiring from the NBA after 50 years of involvement on every level as the president of basketball operations for the 76ers, said this week if there was a redraft Andre Drummond would be the second pick.

He’s going to be that good, I believe. I’d like to say I should be able to trust my instincts, but I’ve been around long enough to know that you know what you know and know what you don’t know. I would still gamble that Andre Drummond is going to be an All-Star and a difference maker and a dominant player down the road.

And those kind of players just don’t come along very often. You couple Andre with the fact that Greg Monroe just gets better and better and better. He has such a great all-around game. Between Greg, who will be an All-Star as early as next year, and Andre, who has future All-Star written all over him, the Pistons have Twin Towers. They’ll be difficult to deal with.

A lot of teams don’t have one good big man. The Pistons are going to have two. And both are going to be better than good. They’re at least going to be very good. I really think Greg will break out next season and it will happen in the eyes of everybody else in the league after all of us have already seen it. He has 36 double-doubles. That tells you almost all you need to know. His assists are way up. I think playing farther from the basket as a power forward gives him even more room to grow in that area. He sees the floor so well.

Andre and Greg are both so unselfish that there’s not going to be a turf war down there. They want to do what’s best for this team and what’s best for one another. They will truly be the shining stars of this franchise for years to come. That, to me, has been the highlight of this season.

We’ve seen some great growth from a couple of other guys who we know are part of the franchise’s future, as well. Brandon Knight has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt just how tough and dedicated he is by playing hurt – and by playing well when he’s played hurt. He continued to throw his body around after all kinds of collisions and all kinds of injuries.

You have to like what we’ve seen from Khris Middleton down the stretch. He continues to impress me. If you haven’t paid close attention to the Pistons at the end of the season, you have missed something by not seeing his incredibly efficient offensive game.

Sometimes we forget about everything Kyle Singler brings to the table because he plays so much like a veteran. The four years at Duke and the year in Spain have made him a pro’s pro before his time. There’s nothing that Kyle Singler does on the court that doesn’t impress me, both offensively and defensively. As proficient a scorer as he is, he doesn’t let that dominate his game. In the future, if he becomes a more important part of the offense you could see some explosive scoring nights from Kyle, but don’t even think about closing the book on Kyle Singler. He’s a valuable asset to this team.

Another rookie, Kim English, is getting more and more comfortable on the court and we’ve seen growth from Kim, as well.

That brings us to the summer, first the draft. The Pistons are in the lottery and the last three drafts by the Pistons have been A-pluses with Greg, Brandon and now Andre. They say this draft isn’t as strong as the last few have been, but I still like the Pistons’ chances to get a good player as long as Joe Dumars is making the choice.

And don’t forget about all the cap space the front office has very diligently created. You’d better believe Joe D and his staff are doing their homework and will be ready to make some key additions to that young core they’ve already built. You never know how the breaks will fall – the Pistons didn’t get many that came their way this year, so maybe they’re due for some good fortune next season. We’ll see you there.