Andre Drummond’s numbers just keep getting more ridiculous.
He’s the first player to put up 135 points and 135 rebounds in the first seven games of a season since Wilt Chamberlain in 1970.
Coming into this season, only two active players had two career games of 25 points and 25 rebounds – Dwight Howard and Al Jefferson. Drummond has already had two this season, and is now the active leader with three.
He’s tied with Tyson Chandler for the active lead in Moses Malone triple-doubles (OREB, DREB, PTS) with six. Sunday night in Portland, he missed his seventh by one offensive rebound.
He has 48 offensive rebounds this season. Kosta Koufos is second with 27. He has 89 defensive rebounds. DeAndre Jordan has 73.
He’s averaging 6.9 offensive rebounds per game – a total that only Moses Malone has matched for a season since the NBA-ABA merger in 1977.
Oh, and one more number.
He’s 22 years old.
Monday night, playing in the second half of a West Coast back-to-back against the best team in basketball, Drummond only put up 14 points and 15 rebounds in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. The night before, he had 29 points and 27 rebounds in 36 minutes as Detroit outscored Portland 41-11 in the fourth quarter to pull out a come-from-behind win.
The win in Portland moved the Pistons to 5-1, which isn’t that exciting until you remember that a year ago, they only had five wins at Christmas. Now they’ve gotten there before Veteran’s Day.
Stan Van Gundy’s master plan is working, and a lot of pundits are eating crow. Van Gundy let Greg Monroe walk in the offseason, giving up a talented offensive big man who can also grab a lot of rebounds, and replaced him with Ersan Ilyasova. Is Ilyasova as good as Monroe? No – Monroe and Drummond are likely to be reunited in this year’s All-Star Game – but Van Gundy wanted a stretch 4 to stretch the defense.
Add in two wings who can shoot in Marcus Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – the latter also providing terrific perimeter defense – and Van Gundy had the kind of lineup he wanted. Put three guys at the three-point line, and let Reggie Jackson and Drummond run pick-and-rolls until the other team figured out a way to stop them. As John Stockton and Karl Malone will tell you, that can take a lot of time.
Has it worked? Jackson’s averaging 22.7 points and leads the league in points created off pick-and-rolls. Drummond’s averaging 19.4 points and 19.6 rebounds. Morris (.360) and Ilyasova (.385) are both knocking down three-pointers at a high rate, and surprisingly, so is Jackson at .393. Caldwell-Pope still hasn’t heated up from outside, but he’s averaging 14.9 points and held Stephen Curry to 7-of-18 shooting on Monday night.
That’s probably as good a starting lineup as there is in the Eastern Conference, and it’s carried to the Pistons to road wins in Atlanta, Phoenix and Portland in the first two weeks of the season.
The problem, of course, is the bench. Brandon Jennings is still at least a month away from returning from his torn Achilles’ tendon, and Jodie Meeks isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break with a broken foot. That leaves Detroit with very little scoring off the bench, which was the reason for their one bad loss of the season.
Hosting the Pacers, Detroit’s second unit gave up a 20-0 run in the first five minutes of the second quarter, turning a lead into a deficit that the starters couldn’t overcome. On the night, Indiana’s bench outscored Detroit’s 43-2, with third-string point guard Spencer Dinwiddie hitting the only shot.
There’s nothing Van Gundy can do until Jennings gets back, at which point he’ll either assume the backup point guard role from Steve Blake or be traded for a shooter. In Twitter conversations with other NBA players, Jennings has expressed his excitement at the idea of being Detroit’s scoring threat off the bench, saying that as well as the team is playing, he wouldn’t want to change the lineup.
The key to the whole thing are a 25-year-old point guard who got a five-year, $80 million contract despite never having been a full-time starter, and a 22-year-old man-child who dropped to ninth in the 2012 draft because teams were worried about his work ethic.
You can’t blame New Orleans for taking Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard has worked out for Portland, but would Charlotte like Drummond over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Would Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters or Thomas Robinson still go in the top five with Drummond on the board?
How would Drummond look in a Raptors uniform instead of No. 8 pick Terrence Ross?
Those teams could spend a long, long time wishing they’d believed their eyes when they watched Drummond work out instead of listening to the rumors about his attitude. Joe Dumars didn’t get much right in his last few years with the Pistons, but drafting Drummond will be a gift that should last for years to come.