When the opening tip went up, Andre Drummond was called for a foul before a second even went off the clock. It looked like it would be a long day for the Pistons big man. After another quick foul he would be replaced by Eric Moreland, and Moreland’s early effort (a quick six points and five rebounds, including an impressive end-of quarter over-the-back layup) made us forget about Andre Drummond.
Whether it was seeing Eric Moreland play with such energy and getting a fire lit under him, or realizing he was facing John Henson and Thon Maker, when Andre Drummond re-entered the game in the second quarter, he was a new man. He was blocking shots, jumping passing lanes, running to the rim like a madman and drawing fouls like it was his job.
With his new, more compact free throw release, Andre Drummond has a new confidence from the free throw line and is no longer afraid of seeking contact. Instead of posting up and shooting a low-percentage fadeaway hook shot, he was going up into his defender, and the refs were giving him the respect that he deserved. He would finished the game with 24 points - and went 14-of-16 from the free throw line. He also blocked two shots and had a steal.
When Andre rolled to the rim, John Henson and Thon Maker looked like little kids trying to defend their dad in the driveway.
This is the kind of effort that Pistons fans want to see out of Andre Drummond. The player he was tonight is a player you can build around and win with. Playing with confidence plays such a huge role in having success on the basketball court, and when Andre Drummond has confidence from the free throw line he is a whole new player. The fans noticed, too - Andre was given a rousing ovation for his work from the the free throw line in the third quarter.
Giannis Antetekounmpo - top-five NBA player and early MVP candidate - might have been the best player on the court when this game tipped off, but Andre Drummond was the best player on the court at the final buzzer.