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Pistons defenseless without Andre Drummond

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Turns out missing your rebounding machine and only interior defender does not help your defense

Washington Wizards v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons have a lot of problems but their biggest is definitely with their big men. Blake Griffin is out and I don’t want to see him back for quite a while when he at least seems to have two functional knees. And Detroit might have the worst backup defensive big men in the NBA.

That means when Andre Drummond is out of the lineup, a rare occurrence only avocados can cause, the Pistons are in shambles. For all those Pistons fans who either 1. Think Drummond is a bum or 2. Want an express lane to tanking, yesterday’s 133-119 loss against the Washington Wizards was extremely instructive.

It turns out Drummond ISN’T a bum and if Pistons fans do sincerely want the Pistons to land a top-3 pick, trading Drummond is the easiest possible path.

Case in point, giving up 133 points in regulation to the 7-17 Washington Wizards. Now, the Wizards have an explosive offense, don’t get me wrong. But there is no world where a competent NBA team should be giving up 55.7% shooting and 31 assists to the mother-effing Wizards.

How does this happen? Well, it’s a team-wide effort contributing to a team-wide problem, but let’s just say that Thon Maker and Christian Wood do not do anything to spark fear in the heart of opponents in the paint or on the perimeter.

Detroit’s lack of intimidating interior presence forced the defense to get sucked into the paint on every drive playing wack-a-mole in attempting to disrupt Washington’s path to the rim. That led to wide open shooters all over the perimeter, and that led to 18 made Washington threes on just 33 attempts.

With Drummond off the floor, Detroit rebounds just 48.6% of opportunities. Thon Maker and Markieff Morris have the worst defensive net ratings on the team and now are being asked to contribute.

The metrics are much kinder to Wood, but watching him on the floor it is obvious that he has a lot of work to do.

Drummond averages an NBA-leading 16.6 rebounds per game. Per 36 minutes, Drummond lead s the way at 17.7 rebounds and Wood and Morris are behind him ... but way behind. Their numbers are 11.4 and 6.5(!!!) rebounds per 36 minutes. Morris’ number might rank him third on the Pistons but he is a depressing 202nd overall in the NBA. For those masochists who are interested, Maker’s mark of 6.1 ranks 217th and the obviously injured Griffin’s 5.8 rebounds ranks 233rd.

That is how you lose a game to the Wizards and give up 133 points. That is how you stay below .500 despite having a capped out roster.

Could an actual interior defender help the Pistons get over the hump? Do we even care at this point?