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Andre Drummond: Perimeter threat?

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Andre is talking up his burgeoning three-point game at Team USA minicamp

2018 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Minicamp Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Well, this certainly is news coming out of the Team USA minicamp:

This shouldn’t be a surprise to Pistons fans that have been paying attention. Andre Drummond has been taking corner threes on his Instagram stories all offseason - it’s not shocking that he would be working on it at Team USA minicamp (side note: the Pistons have two players at Team USA minicamp! Not bad for a non-playoff team in the lesser conference).

I would like it a little more if “Those are the shots I’m gonna be taking,” didn’t sound so much like a threat, but there are pluses and minuses to Dre trying to expand his game in this manner.

Good:

  • 3 > 2
  • At first, a TON of them will be unguarded because defenses will not be used to Andre taking them. Would you care to demonstrate, former Piston and DBB favorite Aron Baynes?
  • If and when defenses adjust to Andre popping instead of rolling, it opens up (slight) spacing for other teammates, and we know the Pistons need all the spacing they can muster
  • Dre does not have to be a volume three-point shooter to have the impact on spacing - again, Aron Baynes only shot 1.2 three-pointers a game in the playoffs and still flummoxed Joel Embiid. Under Dwane Casey, Jonas Valencuinas only attempted 1.0 three-pointers a game last season.
  • Potential positive psychological effect: Andre seems pumped to take some threes, and as we well know, exciting Andre on offense engages him defensively.

Bad:

  • There is obviously no precedent for perimeter success in Andre’s previous six years in the league (career 5-30 from three).
  • Popping puts Dre farther away from the basket, where he is less able/less likely to leverage one of his greatest strengths on a basketball court, his offensive rebounding.
  • We already have evidence that Andre doing new things on a basketball court leads to him, as the kids say, “Doin too much.”
  • Potential negative psychological effect: Andre falls in love with popping, rolls less often, and becomes less threatening as a roll man (Hassan Whiteside Syndrome).

I am a proponent of “coloring inside the lines.” When you color in a coloring book (adults color! It’s fun!) it’s freeing to do things outside structural norms - a moon that’s green, grass that’s blue, a yellow sky, etc. However, it’s important for the moon, grass, and sky to still be recognizable as such - if you apply color haphazardly across the page, the setting no one can longer tell what picture you’re painting.

I like new Pistons coach Dwane Casey enabling Drummond to try (emphasis on TRY) new things. Andre seems to appreciate it too: he’s quoted in The Score piece as such. However, in the process of adding things to his game, Dre still needs to be recognizable as an elite-level rebounder and roll man.

(If you have 15 free minutes - and who doesn’t, it’s the offseason - you should check out Bomani Jones’ Ted Talk on the concept, “The Freedom of Structure.”)

Ultimately, as long as this does not dominate Dre’s game or irrevocably alter how he perceives his own game, I’m fine with it. I acknowledge the very real risks, as DBB’s own Steve Hinson illustrates:

The potential to have defenses compelled to account for Dre across the court is too great to pass up, to me. And if worst comes to worst, you can always color the blue grass green.