By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – On any given night, he might miss free throws. He might get in foul trouble. More likely, 20-year-old Andre Drummond will simply dominate the paint and record yet another double-double.
In the past week, the Pistons defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks. Over the last three games, Drummond is averaging 21 points and 18 rebounds. 19 games into the season, he has recorded 14 double-doubles.
“Joe (Dumars) told me he was on an upswing like that, but I didn’t know,” head coach Maurice Cheeks said after the 76ers game, when Drummond scored 31 points to go with 19 rebounds. “I watched him a few times but I didn’t know he was going to be as good as he is now. But trust me, he reminds me every day, the double-doubles he has. He likes it. He enjoys rebounding a lot. He’s just a good kid.”
Drummond played so dominantly that game that Philadelphia resorted to a “Hack-a-Shaq”-like strategy to make Drummond gets his points at the foul line rather than in the paint. He made just 7 of 18 attempts.
“As I told him during the game, this is what makes you a better player,” Cheeks said. “You have to become a better foul shooter because these are things that happen and these are things that get you taken out of the game. You become a better foul shooter, you can continue playing the whole time.”
If Drummond has a weakness right now, free throws are it. As well as he has played overall in December, his performance at the charity stripe has been dismal. Following his 7-for-18 game from the line against Philadelphia, Drummond made just 2 of 6 against Miami and 8 of 14 against the Bucks.
76ers head coach Brett Brown owned the Hack-a-Drummond tactic after the game.
“It is one of those ugly parts of the game,” Brown said. “You do not really like doing it, to be honest with you, but it is a rule and it helped our team. He (Andre Drummond) has not been a good free throw shooter this year so we had to do what we had to do.”
When the Pistons played the Heat, Drummond contended with another obstacle – foul trouble. Just as missing free throws did little to mar his overall game against the 76ers, Drummond still made a significant contribution to the game despite having issues with foul trouble.
“He ended up with 18 rebounds in 22 minutes, which is amazing,” Cheeks said. “He’s aggressive. We want him to stay aggressive. The way that he’s playing, we need him on the floor but we were able to weather that storm tonight.”
If Drummond keeps playing the way he has been, the Pistons might be able to weather more storms in the future, too.