The painted area of a basketball floor under the goal is not very biblical.
The meek shall not inherit it.
The paint is the belly of the sport’s beast. You go in, and you might not come back out in one piece—if you come out at all.
It’s where noses get broken, eyes get popped halfway out of their sockets and bells get rung.
Every night in the NBA, there’s more whacking in the paint than in a mobster movie.
Black Friday at the mall has nothing on the paint when it comes to jostling.
The three-second rule is there to save lives—kind of like the seat belt law.
The Pistons are 3-0 in this young season and one reason for that fast start is because of a monster-child who feeds off the meek in the paint.
Andre Drummond is nearly seven feet tall, 22 years old and he thrives in the paint like a vampire inside a blood bank.
Drummond swats away shots with disdain, like it annoys him that someone is trying to score inside. He grabs rebounds as if he’s Refrigerator Perry and every basketball is a pie.
With Drummond, the Pistons don’t have to worry about any nonsense in the paint. If an opponent is foolhardy enough to scoot away for a layup, Drummond is there to slap the basketball in one of two places—the third row of the seats or down the shooter’s gullet.
Basketball common sense says that in a rebounding situation, the defending team is at the advantage because they’re usually the closest ones to the glass, and thus have prime positioning to grab the carom.
Drummond figures that if it’s a rebound, then he’s entitled to it—no matter if he’s the defender or on offense. His appetite for rebounding is insatiable.
Through three games this season, Drummond has 19 offensive boards out of his 49 overall. He’s better on glass than pheasant is under it.
The Pistons aren’t unbeaten solely because of Drummond, but every successful basketball team has a heart and soul and for the first time in decades, the Pistons have one who isn’t a guard.
Chauncey Billups, Mr. Big Shot, was the money man for the Pistons’ championship team of 2004 and when Chauncey was traded in 2008 for Allen Iverson, the Pistons started to crumble like a cookie.
Isiah Thomas, he of the cherubic grin and the heart of an assassin, was all of 6’1″ but he was the unquestioned leader of The Bad Boys championship teams of 1989-90.
You have to go all the way back to Bob Lanier (1970-80) to find a time when the face of the Pistons franchise was a big man.
Correction—you have to go back to Lanier to find the last time the face of the franchise was a big man.
Right now it’s Andre Drummond. I dare you to tell him otherwise.
Reggie Jackson, today’s Pistons point guard, is a fine player who wants to be a leader. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the shooting guard, is this group’s version of Rip Hamilton—the Energizer Bunny who you wind up and he plays 40 minutes relentlessly.
But Andre Drummond is The Man.
Actually, he’s still A Kid, and that’s where this story should get terrifying for other NBA teams.
Drummond is 22 and—get this—despite all his prowess, he’s still trying to figure it all out. The dude is averaging 18.7 points, 16.3 rebounds and two blocks per game and he’s not even refined yet.
OK, so he doesn’t have an established low post offensive arsenal yet. But that’s like saying that you shouldn’t worry about the fire-breathing dragon because he can’t run fast.
Besides, Drummond will figure out what to do with the basketball when they dump it into him on the block. Coach Stan Van Gundy will make sure of that. Van Gundy’s offensive recipe calls for one big man surrounded by a bunch of shooters and slashers—and that big man isn’t the second coming of Tom Boerwinkle, either. SVG had Dwight Howard in Orlando and the coach seems hellbent on molding Drummond in the same manner.
So if you’re an NBA opponent and you’re putting all of your eggs in the “Well, Drummond doesn’t have an offensive game yet” basket, you’d better be ready to start making some omelets.
So far, in wins over Atlanta, Utah and Chicago, I’ve seen Drummond toss opposing big men around like rag dolls—whether to snare a rebound, dunk or otherwise impose his will. It’s ironic that he looks like a man among boys, because he’s practically a child in his own right.
Which gets me back to the terrifying part—for the rest of the league. Andre Drummond is just scratching the surface of his dominance. Even he’s not sure how good he can be. Just wait until Van Gundy, who’s starting his second season as Pistons boss, gets some more time with his prized big man.
Drummond has a great relationship with owner Tom Gores and it goes beyond basketball. The two men are said to have a special bond, and that includes Drummond being totally down with what Gores and Van Gundy are trying to build in Detroit—on and off the basketball court.
The Pistons finally have a player over 6’2″ that the city can get excited about. In a game of height, the Pistons have too long been a team of little people.
Now they have someone who makes the other guys look like Lilliputians.