Drummond misses All-Star starting berth, but coaches ‘will end up voting him in,’ SVG says
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
NEW ORLEANS – The fans didn’t vote Andre Drummond to his first All-Star game. But NBA coaches will. Stan Van Gundy has no doubt that what Drummond did over the first half of the season is fully deserving of All-Star status.
“Not at all,” he said before Thursday’s game against the Pelicans. “And I think the coaches will end up voting him in. That would be my guess.”
Drummond’s statistics certainly merit inclusion, but his candidacy also is boosted by the success the Pistons have achieved in Van Gundy’s second season, taking a 23-19 record into the game with the Pelicans.
Drummond, averaging 17.6 points and a league-leading 15.4 rebounds a game, is in his fourth season after the Pistons made him the No. 9 pick of the 2012 draft. He’s playing a career-high 34 minutes a game and has an NBA-best 36 double-doubles this season, eight more than runner-up Russell Westbrook.
LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were voted by fans to be Eastern Conference All-Star starters. Pau Gasol also moved ahead of Drummond in the final vote, released Thursday evening. Drummond finished fifth in the voting with 515,296 votes – about 50,000 votes short of Anthony’s total for the third and final starting berth.
Toronto’s Kyle Lowry moved ahead of Kyrie Irving in the final voting to gain a starting backcourt berth alongside Miami’s Dwyane Wade. That could boost Reggie Jackson’s shot at getting voted in by coaches. Irving, who had played only 14 games this season going into Thursday’s schedule after recovering from a knee injury suffered in the 2015 NBA Finals, isn’t likely to be voted in by coaches. But Lowry probably was a lock and that would have meant one less spot for Jackson.
Washington’s John Wall and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas will be other strong candidates.
Drummond appears to have a much clearer path to the All-Star game, scheduled for Feb. 14 in Toronto. He has eight games of 20 or more rebounds, six ahead of the next closest competitors, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. He has 18 games in which he’s scored 15 or more points while grabbing 15 or more rebounds, 11 more than Howard in second place, and his five 20-20 games is three ahead of Howard.
Among Pistons since 1985-86, Drummond has more 15-15 games (56) than anyone but Bill Laimbeer with 61. Dennis Rodman (29) and Greg Monroe (27) are next on the list.
Drummond also leads all centers, by a wide margin, with 72 steals this season, and he is three blocked shots shy of passing Tayshaun Prince for No. 7 in Pistons history.
And the thing that makes Drummond such an intriguing player is that despite the All-Star numbers he’s complied, there are plenty of areas of upside remaining, Van Gundy said, based on how far he’s come since Van Gundy took over before the 2014-15 season.
“I think he’s a much more polished guy offensively,” he said. “He’s gotten better defensively – still has a ways to go. He’s up and down, but he’s certainly improved there and he was always a great rebounder.”