Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has repeatedly praised Andre Drummond for doing the little things this season – defending energetically, working for position and attracting attention offensively even if the ball never reaches him. It didn’t take reading too deeply into Van Gundy’s comments to hear him not just complimenting Drummond, but imploring the franchise center to take pride in these tasks and continue doing them.
It didn’t work last night.
Detroit fell behind the Nets by 21, and Van Gundy sat Drummond for the final 16:38 of a 109-101 loss.
Van Gundy, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
“We gave him the first half and the first seven minutes in the second half, and he was just, in my opinion, bringing absolutely nothing to the game,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know if he was tired or what the deal was, but he didn’t bring any energy to the game.”
Van Gundy’s assessment is partially correct. Drummond wasn’t producing as much as he usually does.
But Drummond is so talented, he can impact the game even while coasting – especially now that he has developed his passing and face-up skills. Drummond finished with six points on 3-of-9 shooting, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 25 minutes. Brook Lopez (34 points and 11 rebounds) thoroughly outplayed him, but it’s not easy to account for Lopez matching his career total – yes, career – with four 3-pointers in the game. And as hard as he played in relief of Drummond, Aron Baynes had his flaws exposed by the end of his lengthy second-half run.
The Pistons would’ve had a better chance of completing its comeback if Van Gundy re-inserted Drummond – Detroit’s best player – into the game.
But I doubt Van Gundy’s decision was so simple. I think he was trying to send a message.
If that means increasing the odds of a November loss for a better performance in April, the Pistons will probably take it. But that requires Drummond taking the message to heart.