The Right Tone

Young and old agree: Pistons get training camp off to good start

Andre Drummond loved his first NBA practice.
Nick Laham (NBAE/Getty)
Andre Drummond loved his first NBA practice and can’t wait for more. But the guy with hundreds of them under his belt might be the better source for putting it into perspective. And Tayshaun Prince was pretty upbeat about day one of Lawrence Frank’s second season as Pistons coach, too.

“The tone was great,” Prince said, a day after underscoring the importance of establishing the proper tone on the first day of training camp. “But I expected it to be great because we have a lot of young guys who bring a lot of energy to the table. As long as you’re out there with Brandon, believe me, there’s going to be a lot of energy out there.”

The Pistons have six newcomers, veteran Corey Maggette plus five rookies. That helped stretch Tuesday’s morning practice to three hours, but Frank happily concurs that it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison from this training camp to last. With a full off-season to indoctrinate the rookies, including Summer League, they already had a framework of understanding in place.

“You never start where you finish, you start where you began,” he said. “It’s probably not fair but when you compare this first day to last, it’s an accumulation. Guys know how we want to play, regardless of whether we put new stuff in, they know philosophically what we want. Even with the new guys, the benefit of them being here in September.

“I thought the intent, the energy, the attitude, the enthusiasm was very, very good. Our conditioning is pretty good for this time of year. There is a lot of teaching. We scrimmaged some, but there is a lot of teaching. You take it step by step.”

Because his staff returns intact as do all five starters from a year ago, though, teaching is more of a shared responsibility. Assistant coaches can jump in with teaching points immediately, but taking it a step further, so can players who now have Frank’s philosophies ingrained.

“I saw really good leadership from a lot of different guys,” he said. “Great talk. It’s all guys who have been there trying to help each other. That’s what you want, an ‘each one, teach one’ mentality. There’s not a pecking order to helping. That’s what I saw. I thought there was really good energy from everyone.”

Drummond said veteran teammate Jason Maxiell, who said last month he understood it was time for him to take on a mentoring role as others did for him, was quick to offer advice to him.

“Just being around the older guys, they pull us aside if we do something wrong instead of letting the coaches get to us,” he said. “That happened to me with Jason. He pulled me aside and told me I needed to do something better. I went out there and did what I needed to do.

“Today was great. There was a lot to absorb. A lot of teaching points today. I learned a whole lot today about the team, a lot of defensive, offensive schemes we have going on and today was a great day. I can’t wait for the second session. Moving forward, we’re going to be good.”