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Is Andre Drummond’s play in the last two games reason for optimism?

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More of the focused Andre, please!

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Drummond has received lots of criticism this season for his inconsistent play, and with his recent up and down play it’s not going to stop just yet. Getting ejected in a loss to the New Olreans Pelicans for a needless shove to Tim Frazier’s face certainly didn’t help endear him to an anxious Pistons fan base.

But Andre has shown major and prolonged flashes of consistency recently. Drummond, at times, is still trying to do too much, however, at other times he’s making the simple play and working his tail off at the things he’s good at, such as rebounding and using his athleticism to his advantage. Let’s take a look at Andre’s efforts versus the Trail Blazers and Pelicans.

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In the win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Andre recorded 19 points and 15 rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor with a plus-minus of +9 in 30 minutes of action. He had some relatively easy looks with three alley-oops on the evening, but also had some strong non-dunk plays that the team and Pistons fans would like to see more of on a regular basis. Andre took some decent shots that didn’t fall, but on these decent ones below he got them to go and looked polished in doing so. I especially liked the physicality he displayed against Nurkic on that last play and how he subtly used his left shoulder to clear space without being called for an offensive foul. We know Dre can hit that jump hook — just work hard and smart to get in the best position as you can, big fella.

Dre was awake on defense for his lone steal of the game. Other times throughout the game he wasn’t totally locked in, although he did just enough as the intensity level of the team picked up in the second half and overtime, as is usually the case in all basketball games.

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Here against the New Orleans Pelicans, Andre finds himself in a futile position, being that he’s given the ball pretty far out with under eight seconds on the shot clock — and Anthony Davis is checking him. The rolling hook shot was about the most Andre could muster. Surely not a horrible effort there, but it was practically a lose-lose situation already. Davis doesn’t commit to anything and allows Andre to move further away from the hoop. Sound strategy. Davis surely knows who he’s guarding.

This is Andre’s second shot attempt of the third quarter: Andre rolls to the hoop and finds himself a gift-wrapped opportunity against small forward Hollis Thompson, and when he receives the ball he moves out a bit with some pointless dribbles — but is probably wary of Davis lurking under the hoop. Fair enough. Though, if Andre didn’t feel comfortable at that particular time, there’s no crime in passing out. Did he see Reggie signaling that he was open across the floor? Maybe he did, but he wasn’t going to give up what he already had. The thing is, and we’ve beat this horse to death, Andre seems quite often to have a move he wants to do already planted in his head and when he gets the ball he’s going to force that shot up no matter the circumstance or no matter what the defense is or isn’t giving him. Tunnel vision perhaps.

Andre didn’t let his early third quarter struggles influence his spirit (well, more on that later), as he doesn’t relent and uses his quick, strong hands to eventually contain the rock among three Pelicans and then finish. Andre grabbed 10 offensive boards in the game and played hard throughout.

Let’s go back a little — this occurred with under three minutes left in the first half. I really liked this whole sequence by Dre. He got the rebound as his left arm was held by the less mobile Ajinca, and then Dre made his move patiently and with a purpose by bulling straight into him. Dre then told Ajinca that he should rest up a bit and try harder next time.

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Other news to note is that Andre blocked (just barely) his first shot in six games, not having blocked one since the Toronto game on February the 12th. Then within seconds of blocking said shot (against Tim Frazier) Andre gets into a tussle with Frazier and is ejected. At that point Detroit was trailing by just six with a little over one minute left in the third. Can’t have that happen. The Pistons need Andre on the floor.

And for good measure, here’s Dre with a donkey in 2015. If I had known about it any earlier, you all would have been the very first to see it.

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What do you think about Andre’s recent play? Is it more of the usual or is it some small steps in the right direction?