Okay, Pistons fans… take a deep breath.
It’s going to be okay. Seriously.
This loss to the Pacers was ugly. The bench absolutely embarrassed themselves. And Stan Van Gundy may have blown the game by leaving them all in there way too long.
[Yes, five minutes was way too long.]
But before I sink my teeth into the grisly goo of details that comprise this stinker of a game, let’s all step back and behold the beauty of Andre Drummond.
Ladies and gents, the Detroit Pistons have a franchise player, and he is looking more like a
star Superstar every day. As in, perennial All-Star.
The Big Penguin put up 25 points and 29 (!) rebounds, and frankly looked unstoppable against an overmatched Indiana Pacers front court.
While you may be tempted to lament the turnovers, missed shots, horrific bench and (gasp!) Ghost of Rodney Stuckey… those details will all be forgotten in time.
What won’t be forgotten is the emergence of Andre Drummond, who is most certainly making The Leap.
Andre is averaging 20.3 points and 19.5 rebounds through four games.
Dwight Howard averaged 20.7 points and 14.2 rebounds at 22 years old.
Andre has posted back-to-back 20/20 games.
Kareem. Abdul. Jabbar.
ESPN compiled a bunch of stats based off Drummond's monster game. It's an impressive list.
While it’s easy after a game like this to focus on the negatives (of which there are many), this one positive is really worth much more attention. The guy the franchise is building around is actually worth building around. He’s actually a legitimate best player on a playoff team.
He's aggressive. He plays with energy. He doesn't pout. He's improving his touch. He gets ALL the rebounds.
All they need to do is to surround him with the right pieces. Some of those pieces may already be on the team, but it's clear they need more help.
Thanks in part to Dre foregoing his contract extension until next year (and giving the Pistons more cap flexibility), that help is coming, whether via trade or free agency.
Yes, It Was Ugly
Look, I was as shocked as the rest of you by that horrible, awful, disgusting, pathetic five-minute span of "basketball" we all witnessed to start the second quarter. But I’m not surprised that the Pistons lost to an (I’m saying it) inferior team.
As I wrote shortly before the season began, some rough riding should be expected early on, especially until Brandon Jennings returns to give the bench some juice. But that stretch in the second quarter was just unbelievable.
Blake and Bullock didn’t look like NBA rotation players. Baynes and Tolliver were invisible. Stanley looked very much like a 19-year-old rookie. TURNOVERS.
It felt like drowning.
The Pistons bench contributed two points and seven turnovers. On the game.
When this team plays as well as it did during the first three games, it’s tough to remember they’re an extremely young group, and that eight players who saw action in this game weren’t on last year’s opening night roster.
They need some time. This team will get better as the season progresses.
We should be happy they're playing as well as they are in spite of the inevitable growing pains.
Also, keep in mind that the Pistons have $14 million tied up in Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks, two injured back court players who were NBA starters just two seasons ago, and who didn’t play one minute in this game. I seriously doubt a unit with Jennings and Meeks would have let the game get that out of control in the second quarter.
And while that doesn’t help the Pistons in the present, it does put what we saw tonight in context. Post-concussion Steve Blake and "throw-in" Reggie Bullock weren’t even in Stan Van Gundy’s plans as recently as July, but they’re now being counted on to hold down the fort.
I’m no less convinced this is a playoff team than I was a week ago. While it would’ve been nice to ride into Oakland undefeated to face the Warriors, it’s still very exciting to watch Andre Drummond make the leap into Superstardom.
In spite of less-than-memorable performances, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris (and Ersan Ilyasova, for that matter) put up respectable numbers. I hate Reggie Jackson's turnovers as much as anyone, but he still contributed 20 points and 6 assists on not-horrible shooting numbers.
The starters didn't lose this game for the Pistons.
Stan Van Gundy will make the necessary adjustments to address The Bench Problem, whether via rotation changes or via trade, and the return of Swag (even at less than 100%) will eventually steady the second unit.
So sit back, buckle up, shake it off, rub some dirt on it, grab your boot straps and do whatever else it takes to prepare for the rest of the season.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride, and there will be more nights like this.
But there will be many more 20/20 nights for Andre Drummond. And that is why Pistons fans should at least crack a smile.