By: Will Burchfield
Andre Drummond has adopted a new motto heading into his sixth NBA season.
As he said on Monday, “No time to bullsh*t.”
The Pistons’ highest-paid player is ready to commit himself fully to basketball.
“I’m 24 now. I’ve been in the league for six years. Obviously, over time, you’re going to mature and things are going to start becoming more serious,” said Drummond. “For me, I was a kid coming into a lot of money, having fun playing basketball, but at the end of the day this is still a business and maturity is something that was necessary.
“I feel like this year is a good year to really just lock in and be a professional.”
Drummond broke into the NBA at the age of 18. He improved his scoring and rebounding numbers in each of his first four seasons and earned a trip to the All-Star Game in 2015-16. But he took a step back last year, fresh off signing a five-year, $127 million contract, and became the target of fan frustration and the subject of trade rumors.
He used that as fuel over the summer.
“The year I had last year is not who I was. That’s not the player I’m supposed to be, that’s not the player I’m supposed to represent for this city. For me, I took that slap on the wrist as it’s time to wake up. No time to bullsh*t, no time to mess around because everybody’s window is short in this league. You don’t last 20 years. You have a certain amount of time that you’re around,” Drummond said.
To that end, Drummond ramped up his conditioning routine in the offseason, running nearly every day. He also improved his diet. He said he lost about 30 pounds over the summer, down to 285 on the scale, and likes how his body feels entering training camp.
“I’m moving faster, jumping higher. I just feel great overall. It’s just something I’m really proud of, really taking that time and grinding this summer out,” Drummond said.
It began with a hurdle. Drummond underwent surgery in May to fix a deviated septum, the result of breaking his nose in college, and had to scale back his physical activity during rehab. But the operation was a success. Drummond, who said he had forgotten what it was like to have two nostrils, can breathe easier and sleep better.
“I didn’t really think it was that bad until last season when I realized, this needs to be fixed ASAP. I really couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t really do anything without being out of breath. I couldn’t sleep right, waking up I’d feel like I was choking. It was tough,” he said.
When he went in for surgery his doctor asked him, “How’d you play like that for so many years?”
“Just really excited that I got it done and feeling the way I do now,” said Drummond.
In past offseasons, Drummond has worked exhaustively to improve his poor free-throw shooting. It almost became an unhealthy obsession, to the point where he was neglecting the rest of his game. He changed that this summer.
“I’ve put so much pressure on myself focusing strictly on free throws all summer. I really took the time this summer to work on different aspects of my game. Just have fun with it,” Drummond said. “I can’t really dwell on what happened in the past, all I can work on is what I can fix today.
“I’ve done what I needed to do. I lost all the weight I was supposed to lose, I’ve added stuff to my game, the free throws are coming a lot better as well. I’ve done a lot of necessary things this summer to get myself better and prepare for this year.”
The key for Drummond this season, in Stan Van Gundy’s eyes, is bringing his best effort every night.
“All he’s got to do, basically, is get locked in,” said Van Gundy. “When he plays with great energy everything else takes care of itself, and if he does that he’s going to have a great, great year for us.”
With his repaired breathing, improved fitness and sharpened focus, Drummond is ready to deliver.
“Energy is something I can bring every night,” he said. “It doesn’t require a skill, it doesn’t require anything besides hard work. That’s something that I can and will bring this season.”