Just dunk it.
That’s all it’s taken for Andre Drummond to go from OK scoring option to great this month. The Detroit Pistons, chasing one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots, needed more from him. After missing out on his third NBA All-Star Game, Drummond has stepped up and given them exactly what the team exactly what it’s needed.
The biggest development — especially considering the Pistons make scoring look incredibly difficult most nights — has been Drummond’s dunk-every-damn-thing mentality. Since the calendar flipped to February, there haven’t been many awkward floaters or short-armed hook shots.
Nope. Instead, there have been extra dribbles and point-blank shots: dunks and layups.
The Pistons are 7-2 this month, and Drummond’s new offensive approach has been a major reason why. He’s averaging 22.4 points per game on 66 percent shooting. He’s hit a respectable 66 percent of his free throws and boasts an offensive rating of 135 — easily his highest mark of the season.
Entering Monday’s game against Indiana, Drummond had converted 25 dunks this month. Only Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (40) and Los Angeles’ Montrezl Harrell (31) had more in that span. Drummond is making a season-best 3.1 per game since Feb. 1, up from the 1.9 per game he averaged from October-January.
Just over a quarter (25.7 percent) of his field goal attempts, and 36.2 percent of his makes, have been dunks. He’s scoring the ball efficiently because he’s attempting the most efficient shot in the game.
If you were to make a drinking game out of a Pistons’ broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit, you would you would be sipping away after hearing color analyst Greg Kelser comment on how Drummond’s shot attempts come too far from the basket.
That hasn’t been the case recently. Both feet are in the paint and 6.9 of his 8.6 makes per game have come within six feet of the basket. The dunks are up, but so are the layups, and Drummond is making 63.8 percent of his shots within that six-foot range.
From October-January, he made 48.7 percent of those attempts. Just look at the variety of areas he was shooting from then:
So. Much. Red. Average at the rim, bad everywhere else. That 3-point experiment.
Now, look at this beauty from February:
Drummond’s imperfections have left plenty to critique over the years — shot selection being the ripest target. He’s far too inefficient for a player of his size and athleticism, illustrated by a lackluster 53.6 true-shooting percentage over his career.
I can hear the small sample size shrieks from basketball Twitter already, but, you know, maybe he’s seen the light?
Maybe Drummond has finally gotten comfortable playing alongside Blake Griffin? Maybe he’s committed to head coach Dwane Casey and his “shot spectrum” by focusing on scoring at the rim? Maybe Reggie Jackson’s resurgence has sparked him?
Whatever it may be, it’s working. The Pistons are the No. 7 seed in the East. And could easily climb to the No. 6 seed. Especially if this is the Drummond they get down the stretch.
Just as long as he keeps it simple.
Keep dunking, Dre.