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Pistons Tune Up: Andre Drummond’s offensive improvement can come with maturity, finding the open man

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Drummond focusing more on facilitating can open up Detroit’s offense, get Drummond paid

NBA: Preseason-Dallas Mavericks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Drummond is in a contract year with the Detroit Pistons. The team he has spent the first eight years of his career no doubt has interest in retaining their two-time All-Star.

Drummond has made it known he’s interested in staying in the Motor City and requested contract extension talks before training camp.

Owner Tom Gores has expressed how important he is to Detroit and said they are “dedicated” to the 26-year-old big man.

But, it seems like Drummond is expecting either the max or close to a max contract. The question has been, is Drummond worth that much money, especially as he enters his 30s?

It’s a heated debate. Drummond has a reputation he can’t seem to shake as lazy and someone who doesn’t give it his all every night. Other segments of the fan base will counter that he is the best rebounder of all time and someone who is not appreciated enough.

Somewhere in the quiet, rational middle are those who believe while Drummond is fairly good, paying a big man the max or close to it might not be worth it.

The reasoning? His offensive game.

Drummond has never been a threat from anywhere outside of five feet from the basket, and even then, he struggles scoring from the post. He’s shown the willingness to try and develop a jumper, but Pistons and basketball fans alike have said, thanks but no thanks, big fella.

So, without being a threat from outside and not being a low-post presence the likes of Joel Embiid, Drummond isn’t worth the max, right?

Not so fast.

Yes, Drummond must improve on the offensive end this season if he wants to secure max dollars.

The two key words are, “offensive end.”

Pistons fans and NBA fans alike are confused by the new movement of basketball. They’ve been led to believe that big men must be able to launch it from the parking lot in order to be valuable.

This is simply not true.

Big men Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela, DeAndre Jordan, and Steven Adams are all great big man and integral parts of their team. They combine for five All-NBA appearances, but none has attempted more than 0.1 threes a game.

While the outside shot and spacing has never been more important than it is now, getting inside is equally important. The best shots from outside are generated from getting inside, collapsing the defense and kicking out to open shooters.

Big men like this who are elite roll threats to the rim draw the most gravity inside in today's NBA.

So, you may be asking, what is it on offense Drummond needs to improve if it isn’t jump shooting or an elite post presence?

Drummond exhibited during his final season with Stan Van Gundy that he is quite the talented passer. In his final year with Van Gundy, the offense largely ran through him at the high-post, resulting in a career-high 3.0 assists per game.

And while he is, indeed, a nice passer from the high-post, he still has a major step he must take in that department.

And he showed that he may be taking that step this during the preseason.

Through Drummond’s first eight years in the NBA, any time he’d get the ball in the post or inside we knew one thing for sure; he was going up with the ball.

This has resulted in Drummond’s lack of efficiency because he would take too many bad shots.

I think this site has covered Drummond’s shooting woes a time or two over the years.

The easy reason for why Drummond went up with these shots is because, you know, points. Everyone wants to score 20 points a game and score as much as possible. That kind of mindset is, for lack of a better word, an immature way of going about it.

In the preseason though, Drummond showed improvement and a sense of maturity.

And while, yes, it is just preseason, this is the type of thing you look for in these games to see improvement. Decision making.

Drummond seemed to realize that his gravity rolling to the rim and getting inside is otherworldly, and draws the attention of defenders in different games across the country.

And instead of going up with these tough shots inside, or settling for 10-13 foot hook shots that he struggles to make, Drummond was passing out.

This, Pistons fans, is what Drummond needed to improve on. This was his major step to take on offense.

On way more than a handful of occasions, Drummond either got the ball rolling to the basket or in the post. In past years, this was an automatic Drummond shot attempt. During the preseason, though?

He was making the skip pass to the corner.

He was pump faking and making the pass to open shooters.

He was facing up in the post, driving, and kicking out to shooters.

We even saw Drummond get the ball in the post with his back to the basket, make a move towards the rim, and instead of going up with a bad hook shot, he kicked out for open threes!

Not only does this result in better, high-percentage shots for the Pistons, it’ll result in better efficiency for the Pistons big man.

And hey! For all those who only care for counting stats, it’ll improve his assist numbers too!

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but this is an extremely big step the Pistons have needed Drummond to take.

Drummond is already the best rebounder possibly ever, one of the best big men at causing havoc in the pick-and-roll on defense, possibly has the fastest hands of any big man in the league, and in the second half of last season was receiving noise to make his first Defensive team (1.9 steals and 1.8 blocks per-game last 35 games of last season and his fourth straight 100-steal, 100-block season).

If this development and level of maturity continues throughout the regular season, it’ll be another piece of evidence Drummond uses to ask for the max.

And another reason why Detroit should give it to him.