Andre Drummond has had a truly breakout season in his sophomore year in the NBA. The center is averaging 13.1 points and 12.2 rebounds per game next to Greg Monroe in the lineup. Recently Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks even said he did not realize Drummond would be this good when he took the job (h/t Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys).
Drummond though has one skill haunting him in his pursuit of greatness. It is the same one that haunts many centers: free throw shooting.
This is an NBA that looks for every little advantage. And that means hack-a strategies are favored. If a center cannot make free throws and can make an impact with the ball in his hands or defensively, opposing coaches are going to take that away and disrupt the rhythm of the game. It does not matter if you are Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond.
Drummond is shooting 32.1 percent from the foul line this year. It does not make sense not to foul him if he is having a good game. Odds are he will make two points for every six free throw attempts, if that. A .67 points per possession works in the defense's favor. Again, why wouldn't you foul him?
It is understandably frustrating for the fans that follow the Pistons or these players. Drummond expressed his frustration to Dave Pemberton of The Oakland (Mich.) Press. Getting intentionally fouled is a slap to his face:
— Dave Pemberton (@drpemberton) December 1, 2013
Of course the easy way to get them to stop doing that is to make your free throws. Drummond spends a lot of time working on his foul shots, it just has not translated into games.
In Sunday's win over Philadelphia, Drummond made seven of 18. I guess that was good enough to get the Sixers to stop in a 15-point Pistons win.
The strategy is clearly not going away and this development only threatens Drummond's ability to grow as a player.