It's been a while but we have an additional entry in our unofficial series "Grantland loves the Pistons."
Today's installment is a mammoth 6,000 word profile of the team's budding superstar, Andre Drummond.
The story deals mainly with the evolving perception of Drummond from his days as an uncoordinated kid, to care free teen to disappointing college player to ninth pick in the draft to ... well, we all know the rest of that part of the story. And hopefully we'll get to be the ones who help shape that narrative.
Here is just a small morsel, but the whole piece is incredibly interesting and well-crafted. Kudos to author Jonathan Abrams on what I find the most intriguing thing about Drummond -- his personality and how that shapes people's opinions of him.
Some had Drummond pegged as a possible top overall selection before he'd attended the University of Connecticut. By the time the 2012 draft rolled around, he'd started to slide. The criticisms seemed personal. "Andre Drummond, 6 feet 10 and 18 years old, is ready for the NBA the same way Amanda Bynes was ready to drive a car the other night in West Hollywood," the Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs wrote. "You know it. I know it. He has to know it. #Unpolished. #Raw. #Inconsistent."
Questions about his "motor" and "desire" continued to follow him. According to those close to Drummond, there are several possibilities for the rumors' origins. Maybe it was because he smiled when he played, rather than scowled. Or maybe it was the AAU teams Drummond chose not to play for that floated the rumors out of jealousy. Or maybe Drummond knows the real reason.
"Honestly, I think it was just because of the way I played at UConn," Drummond said. "I didn't have the best year. We lost in the first round and I think there was a lot of weight on my shoulders knowing that I didn't play the way I was supposed to play."
Dumars had dreams of a new front line. He imagined a dynamic pairing with Greg Monroe, a talented forward he'd drafted out of Georgetown in 2010. At the NBA draft combine in Chicago, Drummond tipped the scales as the heaviest prospect, at 278.6 pounds. But he was also one of the leanest, with just 7.5 percent body fat. And after he eliminated cookies from his diet, Drummond trimmed 14 pounds from his 6-foot-11 frame. He was a man-child; a rare combination of size and athleticism, maybe the NBA's greatest mix of the two since Dwight Howard.
Drummond's agent, Rob Pelinka, deflected Detroit's initial request for a personal workout. Drummond wouldn't be around when the Pistons selected ninth, Pelinka insisted. But the calls stopped coming from top-eight teams - they had no commitments. He finally relented a couple days before the draft. Dumars and assistant GM George David were to meet with Drummond in New York. They boarded a plane that afternoon. Drummond performed a quick workout for Dumars and David, then told them, "If I fall to number nine, I'd be excited to put on a Pistons uniform." Drummond connected with Dumars, who says now, "When I left that night after watching him work out and after just watching the raw ability of him on the court and then visiting with him afterward, I just felt like if he's there at nine, there's no way we're going to pass on this kid."
Those eight teams still needed to pass on Drummond. Cleveland at four, Sacramento at five, and Toronto at eight all could have used an imposing big man. During the draft, cameras panned to an anxious Drummond as each of those teams passed him up. Cleveland took Dion Waiters, Sacramento selected Thomas Robinson, who has been traded twice, and Toronto drafted Terrence Ross.
Detroit eagerly grabbed Drummond, who couldn't have been more relieved. "I knew I was getting picked here, so I was really excited knowing I had a home and a place that really wanted me," Drummond said. "They knew that they were going to get a player that was going to work hard." The Darko comparisons inevitably followed.
"Whenever you take a raw, young player, there's a risk to it," Dumars said. "I don't know if you can ever eliminate the risk of taking young big men. I just think you have to have faith that if you take a young big and it doesn't work out, I don't think you can be gun-shy about the next young big that comes along, like an Andre. There's no foolproof method to this. There's no exact science to this. We saw Andre and the thought of not taking him because Darko didn't work out never entered the equation. Not even remotely. It's a part of this business."
There is plenty more where that came from. Great way to spend 20 minutes of your day.
H/T to MichiganBillsFan84 who had it first in FanShots.