It's only eight games into the NBA season, but Detroit center Andre Drummond is emerging as an All-Star for the Pistons and perhaps the best center in the NBA. Four years ago, Detroit drafted Drummond with the ninth overall pick in 2012 because of his potential. He posted mediocre freshman numbers at UConn -- 10 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.7 BPG -- but possessed the physical skill set to be a force in the NBA.
For the past three seasons, Drummond has been good, but not great. He's always been a tremendous rebounder, evidenced by the fact that he became the fastest player in NBA history to collect 1,000 offensive rebounds. This year, he's not only a great rebounder but has become a much better offensively. In turn, Drummond has emerged as a star for the Pistons.
It's a stark difference from the start of last season when the Pistons limped out to a 2-6 record in their first eight games. The Pistons' sluggish start would continue into November and December where they lost thirteen games in a row over a month span.
This season the Pistons look remarkably better than the team that posted only 32 wins last season. Much of their success is owed to Drummond. His play has been nothing short of spectacular and to appropriate from Marshawn Lynch, Drummond has been in "beast mode".
Drummond is averaging 18.8 PPG and 19.3 RPG. His field goal percentage and free throw shooting have both improved from last season. He has recorded a double double every game so far and has recorded three games with 20+ rebounds. He's on pace for certainly an All-Star selection and maybe even some votes for MVP if the Pistons can sneak into the playoffs.
While Drummond has yet to be named an NBA All-Star, he must now be in contention for the title of "best center" in the NBA. Along with other young, rising centers such as Rudy Gobert (Jazz), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), and DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Drummond's play can be put up against veterans such as Dwight Howard (Rockets) and Marc Gasol (Grizzlies) whom have jockeyed for "best center" honors the past few seasons.
Andre Drummond's accolades will only increase if the Pistons turn out a winning season. The team's success does not fall squarely on Drummond's shoulders. Along with Reggie Jackson (the team's leading scorer), Marcus Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Pistons have a young and talented team that coach Stan Van Gundy has the task of molding into a playoff contender.
The good news for Pistons fans is that great centers have been the cornerstone of many NBA championships. So far this season, Andre Drummond has played like a great center. As his offensive game improves, he will only become a bigger threat and whether or not he's the best center in the NBA will become a much easier question.
Photos courtesy of fansided.com.