Man Among Boys
Drummond’s dominant and 3 rookies have big days in Pistons win
Drummond, who doesn’t turn 20 until next month, set an Orlando Summer League record for rebounds with 18 in a 78-77 Pistons win over Miami on Thursday to go with 23 points, two steals and two blocked shots. That puts his three-game averages – and Drummond is almost surely sitting out Friday’s finale – at 15.7 points, 15 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.7 steals a game.
The game was won on Tony Mitchell’s put-back slam of Korie Lucious’ air-ball runner with 1.7 seconds left. Mitchell and Drummond both grabbed seven offensive rebounds, a testament to the huge upgrade in athleticism Detroit’s front office has managed in the past two off-seasons.
“We just told Tony, ‘Go after the rebound. If we don’t make the shot, dunk it back in,’ ” Drummond told NBA TV after the win.
Mitchell finished with seven points, nine rebounds and two steals. He’ll have an uphill climb to crack the rotation with the free-agent addition of Josh Smith, but that’s all the Pistons are going to ask of Mitchell as a rookie: play hard when you get the chance and let your athleticism affect games.
It was a good day all around for all three 2013 draft picks. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 14 of his 15 points in the third quarter, when – on a day his jump shot wasn’t falling early – he began attacking the basket. He shot 10 free throws, making eight, and added four rebounds, including one that produced an easy put-back, in addition to picking up three steals and two assists.
Joe Dumars drafted Caldwell-Pope for his 3-point shooting and perimeter size and athleticism. It might take him time for the 3-point shot to register as an NBA plus as he adjusts to the pace of the game and NBA size among athletes his equal for a change, but he’s already giving the Pistons strong evidence that he’ll make them better even as they wait on his all-around offense to be polished.
The rookie who gets Thursday’s gold star, though, is Peyton Siva. Korie Lucious drew the start for the first time with Siva coming off the bench at the midway marks of both the first and third quarters and playing 29 minutes.
It would have been 31, but late in the game he twisted his left ankle while driving to the basket. He and Drummond worked in sync all day, connecting on several lobs, and this play ended with Drummond finishing with a dunk when Siva’s layup missed after he stepped on a defender’s foot and rolled his ankle while attempting an awkward shot to avoid a travel call.
He’d made his mark, though, with nine points, nine assists and seven steals. And on a day the Pistons made news with reports of another veteran point guard signing, Siva gave them something to think about when it comes time to shave the roster to the regular-season maximum of 15.
“That’s my guy,” Drummond said of Siva. “I was real excited we picked him up in the draft. I knew he was a great point guard and a better teammate. He looks for me a lot. I’m really glad he’s my teammate.”
The Pistons close Summer League play at 8 a.m. Friday when they’ll play Miami again in the fifth-place game.