Roy Hibbert has been an All-Star. He’d probably be a U.S. Olympian if he were allowed to be. He’s one of the top players on one of the NBA’s top teams.
He’s what Andre Drummond wanted to be.
So how does Drummond go about rising to that stature?
Well, he worked on his conditioning so he could play more (37 minutes per game this season). He’s getting more comfortable with the ball in his hands. He’s defending more aggressively and more soundly within a team concept.
In time, Drummond will get there, it seems.
Until then, Drummond is doing everything possible to bridge the gap, perhaps learning from the Pistons’ two biggest offseason acquisitions.
The Pistons made Josh Smith their most highly paid player and Brandon Jennings their point guard, putting two players known to play with an edge into leadership positions. If the Pistons-Pacers game Tuesday is any indication, their influence is rubbing off on Drummond.
Pacers Center Roy Hibbert, via Terry Foster of The Detroit News:
“To tell you the truth I was a fan of his until tonight,” Hibbert said Tuesday. “He is a real good prospect, but it seemed like he was running his mouth a little bit tonight. He has a tremendous future, but I was a fan of his. I thought he was supposed to have a breakout year this year. Best of luck to him. He can dunk the ball real well and he can block shots and he can rebound. He is going to have a bright future — but I was a fan of his.”
Hibbert doesn’t like yapping on the court. Drummond knows that and admits to trying to agitate him. It was nothing personal. He was simply doing his job and does not care that his fan club lost a member.
“If I lost a fan, I can’t be mad about it,” Drummond said. “If he complained about me talking, that is part of the game. I’m doing what I can do to get in his head, and it obviously worked because he noticed. So I was just trying to play my game and get into his.”
By saying he doesn’t like Drummond, Hibbert is letting Drummond win – at least to some degree. Hibbert outplayed Drummond in that game, a Pacers win, but maybe the gap between the two would have been wider had Drummond not spoken up.
Knowing he bothered Hibbert will only keep Drummond on this track. Foster:
“My goal was to not make it easy for him,” Drummond said. “It was to make it harder to get his shots, like it will throughout the season. The jump hook I tried to bang him to get him off his spot — that is what we worked on in practice. If he is mad about that, then he needs to get used to it.”
The Pistons and Pacers next play Dec. 16. I wouldn’t be surprised if Drummond has lost a few more fans on opposing teams – and gained more in Detroit – by then. He seems set on defending physically and verbally, a combination that should make the Pistons better, though less liked.