Fans, sports writers and coaches talk a lot about the philosophy of making a young player earn their role on a new team. The question is how much evidence will Lawrence Frank need to give Andre Drummond his shot? After a solid preseason and an efficient, mistake-free opening stretch, Drummond punctuated the start of his career with a 22 point, 8 rebound run in 20 minutes last night. In many cases, the Pistons have been at their best with Drummond on the floor, and even better when Drummond and Greg Monroe are paired up front. Last night, Andre Drummond made the case that he is ready for extended minutes, and possibly ready for a shot at the starting lineup.
Some might suggest it's a bit premature to give Andre a chance for a starting role. The best evidence is the play of Jason Maxiell, who has started this season in career high form. On the other hand, the Pistons are 0-6, the worst start this franchise has seen in 33 years. Taking a risk on a rookie can't make the team any worse than it is. Furthermore, Drummond hasn't yet shown the usual concerns that come with new NBA players. He's got a remarkably low foul rate for a guy his size and age, he takes good care of the ball and he's shooting 70% from the field. For all the things he has done and all of the problems he's avoided, Drummond has made a nearly perfect case for an expanded role, possibly even a place in the starting lineup.
After all, seven games in to last season, the Pistons gave Brandon Knight his first NBA start.
Game Tips at 8:00P.M. EST
Detroit Pistons: 0 - 6 (0-5 road)
Houston Rockets: 2 - 3 (0 - 2 home)
While it may not bode well that the Pistons visit the Rockets on their win-less home turf, tonight's game is very winnable for Detroit. The Rockets have struggled over the last three games, losing against Portland, Denver and Memphis. James Harden has hit a rough patch after his big start, shooting just 30% from the field and 17% from the perimeter while turning the ball over more than 5 times per contest. Like the Pistons, the Rockets are on the second night of a back-to-back, so here's to hoping Harden's hardships last another evening.
The last time these two teams faced off, Detroit looked to be in position to win until the start of the fourth quarter. Detroit was up nine points, 81-72, before handing the game over to Harden and the Rockets for a 33-15 fourth quarter slaughter. It was ugly. It didn't need to be.
Detroit enters tonight's game with something it hasn't had for most of this young season-- hope. Two games back, Greg Monroe recorded the first triple double since 2004, and the highest single game assist record of any center in franchise history. Last night, Andre Drummond became the youngest Piston in franchise history to break 20 points. The two were finally paired together in the frontcourt for 8 minutes last night, leading the Pistons on an immediate 7-0 run. Discovery and hope can be a powerful pairing, and so can Monroe and Drummond. If the Pistons can explore that deeper tonight, it could be a turning point for this difficult start.
Keys to the Game
Feed the Moose / Start the Bull - So far this season, Greg Monroe is leading the team in shot attempts, so I'm happy to report that the Moose is being fed. Monroe's efficiency has begun to bounce back after those early struggles, so the food is well deserved. One half of the frontcourt is set, and now the call for Andre Drummond to start is the next order of business.
Defend the Perimeter - Ex-Piston Carlos Delfino recorded half of Houston's threes on opening night, going 5/6 from 3-point range. The Pistons were right to focus on dribble penetration from Harden and Lin, but they can't afford to forget about the handsome Argentinians quietly chilling in the corner.
Box the F Out - Omer Asik loves rebounding. Let's ruin his night and make it really hard for him to do so.
Question of the Game:
What will it take from Andre Drummond to prove to Lawrence Frank that he's ready for extended playing time and possibly a starters role next to Greg Monroe up front? My finger is hovering over the caps lock key in anticipation...