When you have the second-most losses of anyone else in the NBA, it's hard to get too excited about anything. But regardless of whether the team struggled this year, there was one thing Pistons fans could hang their hats on -- the emergence of Andre Drummond.
So as the losses piled up, it was doubly crushing to see Detroit's franchise cornerstone struggle so mightily to begin the year. Drummond, who talked about taking a leadership role on the team before the season began, couldn't seem to do anything right on either end of the floor.
His penchant for fouls kept his minutes down and his frustration was visible. In his first 12 games he played less than 30 minutes eight times. But in the past 14 games he's played that few minutes only three times.
From a fan's perspective, even more frustrating than his constant push-offs and early foul trouble was his lack of efficiency at the offensive and, and that seems to be coming around lately as well.
The losses are still piling up, yes, but even in Wednesday's 117-106 defeat to the Mavericks, Drummond delivered the kind of performance his fans expect of him. Drummond had 19 points, 24 rebounds, four steals and three blocks.
Drummond was the first player to record at least 24 rebounds, four steals and three blocks since Vlade Divac in 1995. It was the kind of game that makes people think he can be a franchise player, even if he never becomes a back-to-the-basket post threat.
In his past eight games, Drummond has gone from inefficient young player to a big penguin on the prowl. After shooting just 44 percent in his first 16 games he has shot 55.8 percent in his past eight. He's playing better because the post-ups are limited, his point guards are finally looking for him on the pick-and-roll and he's playing with energy. Simply, he looks like he's enjoying himself again.
His rebounding, steals and blocks are also up.
His defense is also improved. While he's nowhere near a great post defender yet, he is markedly better than last season.
Of the 28 players who defended at least seven shots at the rim last year, Drummond ranked just 22nd, allowing opponents to shoot 53.1 percent. This year, though, that number is up to 15th (of 34 qualified players) and he is allowing just 48.5 percent at the rim.
There are plenty of reasons to be down on the Pistons, and plenty of players that should be on the trade block, but thankfully, Drummond doesn't appear to be one of them.
Andre Drummond's Resurgence