On the NBA Beat Ep. 2.14: Dan Feldman: Pistons’ Andre Drummond’s a “Work in Progress”

Last time Dan Feldman of NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk joined the podcast, he detailed the Pistons’ inconsistency. Again, a season later, Feldman breaks down the team’s streakiness and many other salient issues, including Stan Van Gundy’s unique brand of leadership, Reggie Jackson’s improving play, and why star center Andre Drummond can, at times, be so frustrating to watch. Here are some excerpts to get your engine revving:

1:50-1:58: During the recent 3-9 skid: “The entire difference almost was defensively. They went from defending like, give or take, the best team in the league to defending like the worst team in the league.”

7:55-8:27: “One thing that is helping [Tobias Harris] is that when you start the game, the Pistons want to get touches for Reggie Jackson. They want to get Marcus Morris involved. They’re running more plays for KCP. They’re running more plays for Andre Drummond. They’ve got to get all these guys involved… When [Tobias Harris] comes off the bench, it’s his turn to get involved. There’s no ambiguity of, ‘Hey is it my turn or is it somebody else’s turn?’ When he comes in, it’s his turn, he can get going and get into a rhythm. He’s a talented player and a good scorer and when he’s the focal point, that’s something that works for him.”

15:44-16:22: Regarding Drummond’s defensive lapses: “Some of it’s just getting lost, still being young, still learning his way, but some of it’s aggressiveness. You look at his shot blocking numbers, those should be higher. He’s just not always competing on that end… that’s one of the drawbacks with him; there are worse drawbacks. If you have Andre Drummond, you take the good and bad. He’s the best player the Pistons have had in a long time, probably since Chauncey Billups. You’re happy to have him, but you have to work through these effort things and get him to compete more, especially on the defensive end more consistently, and to be smarter on that end. It’s a work in progress.”

18:50-19:22: “A lot of times… it doesn’t really matter whether [Drummond] is in a good spot or not, they just sort of cherry pick, ‘This will be a Drummond possession.’ So if he’s not in good position, he’s going to force up the shot. He’s not that good of a passer, that’s something he needs to work on. [They need to] just make it more part of the offensive flow, rather than ‘Sometimes we’re going to run our offense, sometimes we’re going to force-feed Drummond.’ Those things need to find a balance and work better together. It’s a work in progress.”

19:53-20:25: ”I think it’s something that’s driving Stan Van Gundy nuts, how they haven’t crashed the glass as hard as he wants them to, especially the non-Drummond players. They all rebound better when Drummond is out of the game. When Drummond’s in, they’re often waiting for Drummond to get the rebound, every rebound, and he obviously can’t get them all. That said, at least the Pistons are doing something productive out of their offensive rebounding dip; they’ve been very good in fastbreak defense and not allowing fastbreak points.”

23:19-23:57: “The Pistons want to develop [Stanley Johnson], they want to get him minutes, they want him to be part of the rotation, but he’s got to earn it at least a little bit and for so much of the season, he wasn’t. Offensively, he would go through two different phases. He’d either force it and miss a lot of shots and turn the ball over, or he’d be way too passive and completely disappear. He never found the middle ground and didn’t find much coming naturally to him. Defensively, for the most part, the effort was good, but it was just really reckless. He didn’t really know where he was going and was running around a lot ineffectively. Not the progress you’d want to see from last year.”

28:13-28:48: “[Stan Van Gundy]’s also bluntly honest about himself, about mistakes he makes, where he does things wrong and where he needs to do things better. I think players can trust that when he’s criticizing them, it’s because he really thinks it’s their fault. It’s not because he can’t find fault or is just trying to shift blame because when he thinks it’s his own fault, he’ll blame himself. It sets a tone of accountability, a culture where everybody’s got to be at their best including him and where you can trust what he’s saying.”

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod