Going into last night the NBA was inverted in a sense. Two teams in the East had more than 9 wins. 9 wins in the West was two spots from 15th, the bottom of the conference.
Eek. In a post for another time, yes, David Stern in his final league mandate should slice up the standard playoff format and go with a top 16, or top four in each and then best records, or some variation. Why? Because I want that Stern grin once more and it's the right thing to do. Rules are meant to be...adjusted to the climate. The climate in the East, outside of Miami and Indiana, is as frigid as the iciest moon around Neptune.
As noted yesterday, strikingly, the East is loaded - not an overstatement - with quality centers. Not necessarily centers in the traditional sense, but what's traditional in the NBA anymore? It's not short shorts, high socks and fundamentally sound bounce passes. OK, there IS those.
Not far behind that sizeable group are Joakim Noah, a double doubling Marcin Gortat, an improving Jonas Valanciunas, and for the second straight year, even Andray Blatche is playing well.
Next time you hear 'what happened to all the centers in the NBA' tell those observers to uh, pay attention.
There was no particular order to the list above, but in case you weren't familiar with the tone and topic selection of this blog, we're going to gush over Andre Drummond.
*Eric, try not to overstate things. Don't get caught up in his three-game December averages of 21.7/18.7 2 blocks, 3 steals and 69% FG. Don't do it.*
With Dwight Howard gone to the West, winning the fan vote to start at center for the East is wide open. Even though the Pistons have been off the national radar for years, Drummond's youth, rousing athleticism and of course statatistics, warrant notice by anyone even paying just half attention to the NBA. Take it from someone who used to be a kid, a teenager...we LOOOOOOOVEEE rookies and young players. We want the next hot thing. Hopefully that feeling remains true of today's young voters and they vote frequently in droves for the Pistons 2nd year center.
Of all those centers listed, Lopez is probably the most offensively skilled. That's usually the keystone to reaching the All Star game. However, Lopez has missed some time and his Nets team is a grease fire that's engulfed a Brooklyn city block of fast food restaurants in a relentless inferno.
In all reality though, the East's starting All Star center will be Hibbert, or Chris Bosh, who in a crummy year, is still deceivingly listed as a center. Grumble grumble.
Andre Drummond has the same chance as Andre the Giant has of starting the All Star Game in New Orleans.
Beginning last year the league, because of a dearth of quality at the center position, narrowed the starters down to backcourt and frontcourt. Here's the list of those on the ballot under the latter. You can vote for Drummond until your mouse or mobile device breaks, but the East's starting frontcourt will be Lebron, Melo and Tom Ford Paul George. If Drummond makes the ASG it'll be as a reserve, and by no means is that unfeasible.
Even if the league still went with the three conventional positions, my assumption is that Hibbert or Bosh would be your starting center for the East.
Drummond may or may not continue his malevolence towards the opposing frontcourts of teams. He may or may not make it to the NBA's exhibitional playground game in New Orleans in February. I can tell you this.
All Star now or not, or in forthcoming years, Andre Drummond is something I can't really say about other centers in the East whose names I've already mentioned.
Drummond is a force. Start reckoning.
I'm still learning how to interpret and use the vast ocean of statistics the NBA now offers due to the SportVU player tracking. Nothing posterizes me right away scouring through Drummond's stats and percentages in the way that say Lebron's might. It's just easy to see how dominant Drummond has become. Old fashioned stats are enough to support story here.
Early in the season I saw Drummond often confused defensively. Who to guard on pick and rolls, leaving his positioning in the post that created convenient passing lanes for penetrators, getting stuck on smaller players on switches and more. I can't definitively that all that's improved. I can tell you that if those lapses are still occurring I'm not paying as much attention to them because of Drummond's increased awareness and presence on the other end of the court, and his veritable domination of the boards.
Drummond doesn't have go-to moves offensively, but when you're able to position yourself in the lane the way he does, and with his freakish athleticism and ability to get off his feet and into the air so quickly, you don't need a baby hook, a back down, 8 foot jumper or an up and under.
Remember I said his shots should never, ever come outside of the 'restricted area' of the restricted area? He listened.
I'm desperately trying not to get caught up in the last three games, but if Drummond continues to improve almost in accordance with Moore's Law, his ability to score roughly 15 a game is not a statistic we should expect to dwindle. In fact the only way of minimizing Drummond's impact on the offensive end, is if HIS teammates start hitting their shots more consistently, thus not needing Drummond to clean up. Opponents could also hit THEIR shots preventing the Pistons from fast breaking out too.
Before I drop the 'STFU Eric' thought on you, let me give you that Drummond's at 13.5 points per game now and in just a trio of the Pistons' 19 games this year he's failed to score in double digits. In his best years, Ben Wallace NEVER averaged more than 9.7 points per game. Drummond's at 12.8 rebounds a game now, and at his peak Ben grabbed over 15. Drummond's played roughly less than a typical season of Miami Heat championship basketball. That's 100 games or so.
My personal belief is that Ben Wallace was the most talented Piston in the middle of the last decade. Feel free to differ. I have no qualm with that. We all know that team was greater than its parts.
So in trying to calm my own drunk-on-Drummond hysteria, let's end with this:
ANDRE DRUMMOND IS THE MOST TALENTED PISTON SINCE...