Focus on strengths is Drummond’s way back to All-Star status, SVG expects

AUBURN HILLS – For Andre Drummond to make his 2016 All-Star game berth routine, he needs to do more of less.

That’s Stan Van Gundy’s wish for Drummond this season after a year where Drummond failed to make the All-Star team and the Pistons came up short of repeating their 2016 run to the playoffs.

“That’s going to be a big part of it with him this year,” Van Gundy said. “To really get him to focus on the things that he does at not even a high level – at an elite level, and doing those well. So many times guys think the way to becoming great is to be able to do more and more things. In a lot of cases, it’s more doing the things that you already do at a higher level.”

Drummond shot more than 60 percent from the field in his first two NBA seasons, when he rarely attempted to score from anywhere other than at the rim. Last season, Drummond shot 53 percent and recorded a career-low 1.1 blocked shots a game. Van Gundy has an ideal in mind for how he’d like the five-year veteran who turns 24 this week to play.

“The step, to me, for Andre is to do a little bit of what DeAndre Jordan does and dominate the game at the defensive end of the floor. Become that All-Defense type of guy. Because he’s already a historically great rebounder and to add to that becoming a great defender and build his game from there and everything to be built around the basket – his pick and rolls, going to the rim, running the floor, all of that.”

Drummond has lost 20 pounds over the off-season, Van Gundy said, and that in addition to surgery he had to repair a nasal blockage should give him significantly greater endurance and enable more of the 20-20 blockbuster performances.

“He’s worked hard this summer to get himself in better shape and be able to play with more energy for longer periods of time. I think that’s the biggest step he could take this summer beyond any skill thing.”

Van Gundy doesn’t plan to bypass Drummond at the offensive end because he sees a skill set that can help facilitate scoring chances for others. But he expects that a Drummond who plays with a more consistent energy level will translate to more efficient scoring chances for him.

And it’s not just on Drummond to create better scoring chances for him, either, Van Gundy believes.

“The thing we haven’t focused on enough is where and how we need to get him the ball. And we need to get him the ball in the paint area, which means he’s got to fight for position more in that area and when he gets in that position we’ve got to be more attuned to getting him the ball in there because he’s really, really good when he’s got both feet in the paint.

“He’s had a tendency to run off the lane and we’ve had a tendency to pass him the ball where it runs him off the lane. So we’ve got to get him the ball closer to the basket and then on the perimeter we’ve got to use him more as a ballhandler, facilitator, getting him to handoffs, pick and rolls, and then getting him right back to the basket again because he’s a good ballhandler and a good passer and we can use more of that and let him play on the perimeter and less of him catching the ball two steps off the lane and trying to back in from there and shooting a long jump hook.”

If all of that is successfully implemented, the Pistons figure to win a few more games. And winning a few more games is the surest way for Drummond to get back on the All-Star radar.

“I think he understands the correlation between All-Star berth and how the team’s doing,” Van Gundy said. “All those awards and honors tend to follow team success.”