Talking the Talk

Drummond, at Rasheed’s urging, works to become defensive QB

Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond is already learning defensive techniques from Rasheed Wallace.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Andre Drummond’s low-post game is in its infancy, a fact no one who’s spent much time watching him over his first 1½ NBA seasons would dispute. Less discussed, and virtually unnoticeable from the stands or your living room, is the fact that his competency as a communicative defensive quarterback – equally critical to his quest for greatness – is equally in its cocoon stage.

“In high school, I didn’t have to talk,” he said after Thursday’s practice a day after the Pistons’ schedule was disrupted by the ice storm that ripped through the Southeast and forced postponement of Wednesday’s scheduled game in Atlanta. “All I had to say is ‘left’ or ‘right’ when a screen was coming. I didn’t have to say when a back-door (cut) was coming because we played a 2-3 zone, so it didn’t really matter. But in college, I wasn’t the best at it, either. That’s when guys are a lot better and they’re smarter with their cuts.”

It is perhaps the area where Rasheed Wallace, one of the NBA’s all-time great defensive communicators, can have the most influence in Drummond’s development. Wallace’s voice cuts through the din even today in NBA arenas from his seat one row behind the Pistons’ bench, barking out warnings of oncoming screens to Pistons guards or instructions for their big men.

“Just hearing somebody’s voice in center field, it helps our guards out to know where they need to go, when the screen is coming, when the back door is coming, when the flare is coming,” Drummond said. “When different things like that happen and we’re talking, it helps us all out in the long run.”

It requires a conditioning of the mind, Drummond admits, to maintain the vigilance required to read and react to what is expected of him as an individual defender while also providing constant traffic information for teammates around him.

“It’s kind of new for me,” Drummond said. “It’s always been something difficult for me. I kind of react instead of saying it. Being with Rasheed has taught me I have to speak up and do it at the same time, because a guard can’t read what I’m doing. They’ve got to hear what I’m saying before I do it first. That’s one of the things that I’m learning.”

Drummond was encouraged by the results of Tuesday’s win over Orlando after the drumbeat of that morning’s shootaround dealt with a greater emphasis on defense and communication in general.

“I think we just played harder that night,” he said. “We had a mindset that we weren’t going to let them be comfortable and do the stuff they’re used to doing. On ball cuts, we hit them hard and on their shots we make sure we fouled them hard when they go up for layups. We just made it tough for them, played physical.”

It wasn’t lost on the Pistons that they beat a struggling team. And Maurice Cheeks wasn’t proclaiming any corner having been turned.

“We’ll see that the next game,” he said about the potential carryover of a game in which the Pistons held Orlando to 87 points, 22 in the paint, on 42 percent shooting. “We did have more of a focus on the defensive end (in preparation for the game) and we carried it over in that game. But I’ve always talked about doing things consistently, so we’ll see if that carries over Saturday night. That’s how we have to try to do it. If we’ve got a chance to win, that’s what we’ve got to do.”

  • Cheeks said that rookies Tony Michell and Peyton Siva will head for Fort Wayne, Ind., on Friday to begin a second stint in the NBA D-League for each rookie.

    “Both are great guys,” Mad Ants coach Conner Henry told the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. “Both guys are accepted within the group. What I like about those guys is there’s very little ego with them. They embraced coming down the first time and I’m hoping that’s the same case now.”

  • The Atlanta game has been rescheduled for April 8, a Tuesday night. The Pistons are off on April 6 and 7 and have a road game scheduled April 9 at Cleveland.

  • Drummond on whether he’ll be watching Thursday night’s unveiling of the All-Star reserves: “Nah. I’ve got other things to do with my day. It’s exciting to be named an NBA All-Star, one of the best 12 in your conference. If I do make it, I’ll be real excited and blessed. But if I don’t, then I’ve got more work to do.”