Early returns boost Joe D’s confidence in Monroe-Drummond duo
Virtually from the moment the Pistons saw Greg Monroe fall to them in the 2010 draft, the search was on for a complementary frontcourt fit. Alongside the offensively skilled Monroe, Joe Dumars hoped to find a shot-swatting, rim-protecting, floor-running 7-footer.
From central casting, along came Andre Drummond two years later. Barring any curveballs, the Pistons expect Monroe and Drummond to form a long and fruitful partnership, eventually carrying the franchise back to title contention as they mature and the pieces are set in place around the bedrock foundation they promise.
But that point, somewhere out there in the future, doesn’t cloud Joe D’s view of the present.
“Those kids, when they’ve had a chance to play together, they’ve played well,” Dumars said. “We certainly believe, going forward, those guys can make a pretty good tandem up front, because they complement each other and that’s the main thing you want to see with any tandem – that they complement each other.
“The things Greg is really good at, he can make up for Andre not having that. The things Andre is really good at, he can cover for Greg at that. Nice tandem. We’re hoping they’ll grow together as two young big guys who can control the paint for us for years to come.”
It’s not as simple as Drummond growing into a player who can assume the same heavy workload Monroe now shoulders, either. Some of it is Monroe becoming more comfortable guarding the greater variety of players he’ll encounter as a full-time power forward. But Dumars believes it’s a transition Monroe will be able to handle without great difficulty.
“We think Greg is versatile enough – he can put the ball on the deck, great passer, has an incredible basketball IQ. If he has to step out and do more things from a perimeter standpoint, we feel he has the skill set to make that transition well.”
Dumars, of course, has been encouraged – if not surprised – by the impact Drummond has been able to effect. Yet he is mindful of the progress still ahead for the 19-year-old.
“For all the good that Andre has done up until this point,” he said, “we still feel like, obviously, the kid has a ton more to learn. He hasn’t played 82 games yet. We’re not deluded at all into thinking that the kid has arrived. We know that he has so much more to learn. We think he’s going to be a much better player once he gets that experience under his belt, but we know the kid still has a lot of experience that he has to go through to become that player.”
Given that Monroe and Brandon Knight, taken in the two drafts ahead of Drummond, are already established as future franchise cornerstones, the mesh – not only in talent, but in temperament – of the three is a factor Dumars and all those around him naturally were interested to see develop.
“He’s as good a kid as we have on this team,” Dumars said, “and he fits right in, in terms of the character of Greg, of Brandon, of Kyle Singler, of all these young guys we have. He fits right into that. We believe in this kid’s personality and who he is as a person.”