Good Day for Andre

Drummond flashes potential at both ends in Pistons loss

Andre Drummond continues to put on promising performances in Summer League play.
Fernando Medina (NBAE/Getty Images Sport)
ORLANDO – The fact Cole Aldrich is still logging major Summer League minutes two seasons after Oklahoma City swung a trade to take him with the No. 11 pick in the 2010 draft means his NBA future remains uncertain. But he’s a two-year veteran who arrived after three seasons of high-level college basketball at national power Kansas and the Thunder essentially chose him over 2009 first-rounder Byron Mullens, gifted to Charlotte last season for a future second-round pick.

So Aldrich, in other words, was a pretty fair test for Andre Drummond, 18 and playing his third Summer League game in three days.

Drummond more than held his own despite a flat performance from the Pistons, whose early rash of turnovers set a tone that resulted in their 83-62 loss to Oklahoma City, their first setback of the Orlando Pro Summer League schedule.

“He competes,” teammate Kim English said of the Pistons’ precocious 7-footer, who fell to No. 9 in the draft in part because teams questioned his NBA readiness and his willingness to play hard. “He really played with a good motor today. He was getting fouled early, he was competing on the glass and that’s all I expect out of him – just to compete every night, show his athleticism and play hard and he’s done that.”

Drummond had a dynamic first quarter, finishing with eight points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 10 minutes on his way to 10 points, nine boards and four blocks in 29 minutes.

“Andre was good,” Pistons Summer League coach John Loyer said. “He was active, he was more physical today. We’re working with him on all of his pick-and-roll coverages. It’s just so much for a young guy to learn in seven practices and three games, but his energy, his effort, his desire to play the game was excellent today.”

Aldrich scored 10 points, eight of them in the fourth quarter and four of those with Drummond on the bench. Drummond kept his feet planted through a series of Aldrich pump fakes that resulted in a traveling call and Aldrich appeared to rarely consider shooting when he was guarded by Drummond in the post after that.

Drummond also showed some variety in his scoring with a nice short bank shot, a finger roll and a floater from just inside the foul line that summed up the coordination so rare in a 7-footer, let alone one so young.

“I feel a little more comfortable now with my teammates,” he said. “When I take shots, I feel comfortable taking them because they gave me the ball in the right position where I’m used to scoring.”

The other AD, Austin Daye, had another impressive, efficient scoring day. Coming off a 24-point Game 2, Daye followed with 18 points on 5 of 7 shooting, hitting 2 of 4 from the 3-point arc and 6 of 7 free throws. He’s continued to play power forward exclusively in Orlando and is giving the Pistons reasons to believe that could be his NBA future.

“It was by design,” Loyer said. “We played him primarily at the guard position this year. Austin is such a good stretch perimeter shooter. He’s played that in and out of his career. It’s something we want to take a good, long look at and I think Summer League gives us that chance.”

“I think it makes it easier for him,” English said. “He doesn’t have to bang with those guys. The game is to his advantage on the offensive end where he’s a pick-and-pop guy. When he shoots his shot, he’s shooting with extreme confidence and it’s good to see the ball go through the hoop for him.”

Drummond and Daye aside, nobody else could generate much traction. Brandon Knight committed five of Detroit’s 15 first-half turnovers, which generated 16 Oklahoma City points and allowed the Thunder to build a 13-point halftime lead. Knight shot 5 of 17 and finished with three assists against the five turnovers.

“We’re asking him to do a lot,” Loyer said. “Brandon was able to play this year with a lot of veteran players that know where to be, know where to go. Now, all of a sudden, you’re asking him to not only be your playmaker, (but) get all the other four guys in the proper spot. I’m happy with Brandon. Brandon is a good leader, did a good job leading for us when things got tough today. He’ll be fine.”

The Thunder played with a lineup laden with professionals. Not one of the 11 OKC players who participated played college basketball last season. In addition to Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Reggie Jackson were on Oklahoma City’s NBA roster and several others, including Garrett Temple and Morris Almond, are NBA veterans with the others having played professionally in Europe or elsewhere.

“I told our guys we did not play with that same energy we did the first two days or that we practiced with the first five days,” Loyer said. “I told them it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and this part of the marathon we were defeated. We’ll pick ourselves up and play again tomorrow.”