When Dikembe Mutumbo walks into the building, it hits you like a shot sent right back in your face. When Mutumbo, 7-foot-2, walked into Philips Arena on Tuesday night, it wasn't a great game of Marco Polo with a twist; it was pretty easy spotting him. He had to duck through the security entrance just outside the media room, his booming dialect already mid-conversation with familiar staff on the other side. He was immediately noticeable. Mutumbo was back in his house, where he once led the league in rebounds per game at the age of 33, and he was about to witness flashes of himself on the court that night.
Andre Drummond, just 22 years old, grabbed 19 rebounds, 11 defensive and eight offensive, against the Atlanta Hawks in the season-opener win. The Pistons had total control of the boards, outrebounding the Hawks 59-40, thanks to Drummond's incredible effort. Mutumbo was wowed.
"When it comes to rebounding, whoa," Mutombo said. "He surprised me. I was like, 'Who is that kid?' To see a talented young man going after the loose ball like that? If he can stay hungry ... He's going to be good. He needs to stay hungry."
After the game in the Pistons locker room Stan Van Gundy pulled Drummond aside to introduce him to Mutumbo. Mutumbo said that he told Dre to take his time when he gets the ball on the block.
"'If you can make those hook shots, that's it, nobody can stop you,'"
Sure, Drummond shot poorly when posting up, finishing the game a frustrating 6-of-16 from the field, but it has to help Dre mentally to hear such positive reviews from a NBA Hall of Famer who played in the association for 18 years.
"I don't think, in this game today, there's no slow development. It can click right away in your mind," Mutombo said.
Maybe not a slow development, but Dre's post game is definitely a work in progress. Whether or not it ultimately clicks, one thing's for sure: his rebounding is already there and then some.
Drummond, the favorite to win the rebounding title this year, is well on his way.