A lot has changed for Andre Drummond.
He was the franchise player and an All-Star center in the Pistons’ previous iteration of their rebuild, compiling 20-point, 20-rebound performances on a regular basis.
Now, Drummond is a reserve and serves as a veteran on the Chicago Bulls, one of the Pistons’ longtime rivals.
He’s in an unfamiliar place as he navigates a new role, one in which his minutes fluctuate from game-to-game depending on the scenario and situation. His process to remain ready for when his opportunity arises lies not only in his professionalism, but preparation.
“Just being a professional,” Drummond told reporters last week ahead of his first game against the Pistons in a Bulls uniform.
“At the end of the day, it’s the biggest thing I hang my hat on. Control the things you can control. I can’t control the amount of minutes I play, but I can control the amount of effort I play with while I’m out there. I just try to play to the best of my ability with the minutes I get when those opportunities do present themselves.”
That mentality shined through with his performance against the franchise that drafted him with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He looked forward to competing, but also wanted to treat it just as he would any other game.
The Drummond of old made an appearance during the third quarter as he intercepted a pass and hustled his way to the ball. Big men don’t typically lead fast breaks, but Drummond remained poised and under control as he went coast-to-coast for a two-handed dunk.
It was one of his most impressive plays of the night as he helped the Bulls cruise to a 132-118 victory on Friday night over his old team. He provided a significant lift off the bench and finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Drummond has played for four teams since the Pistons traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers shortly before the 2020 trade deadline, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets.
He spoke briefly about his time in Detroit with The Detroit News shortly after the Bulls’ shootaround on Friday.
Asked if he ever visualized himself remaining in Detroit for the entirety of his career, Drummond appeared grateful for his time with the franchise despite its rocky ending.
“Yeah, I don’t think anybody that starts somewhere plans on leaving, so for me I’ve always had and I still have love for Detroit,” Drummond told The Detroit News. “I still have my home in Detroit. I’m always in Detroit all the time, regardless if people see me. I don’t go anywhere since I’m always at home, but Detroit is home.
“For me, that was always a place that I thought I was going to be for my entire career. But it didn’t go that way. They had other plans, I think they wanted to restart their team again and it’s never any hard feelings. I know the way of the business. It’s always love. I love (Pistons owner) Tom Gores. I love his family. I love the city of Detroit and I love the staff there.”
Drummond, 6-foot-10 and 280 pounds, was the franchise player on the Pistons’ roster through his eight seasons with the team from 2012-20. The two-time All-Star was having the best season with the team with a career-best 17.8 points and a league-leading 15.8 rebounds when Detroit dealt him to Cleveland for veterans Brandon Knight and John Henson, along with a second-round pick.
Drummond is a traditional center in an era full of big men who can shoot and stretch the floor, which didn’t fit the Pistons’ long-term plans.
The Pistons have been blessed by the basketball gods with a plethora of dominant rebounding big men throughout the franchise’s history, including Drummond, Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace and their newest prodigy on the boards, Jalen Duren.
The 19-year-old rookie has worked his way into the Pistons’ starting lineup, mostly due to athleticism and rebounding ability, the latter of which has already been Drummond-like. He tallied a career-high 19 rebounds against Charlotte last month and became the second-youngest player in NBA history with at least 19 boards in a game behind Dwight Howard.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Duren and Drummond are similar when it comes to dominating the glass.
“A little bit different, but both of them are rebounding machines,” Casey said. “Andre (Drummond) is a great rebounder and at a young age, Duren is an excellent rebounder. They’re similar as far as their rebounding skills. Both of them are excellent screeners, rollers. They’re similar in a lot of different ways, except the age factor.”
Drummond praised Detroit’s young core during his postgame presser, but talked specifically about Duren and his potential with The News.
“I think from what I’ve seen, I think he’s a very good basketball player,” Drummond said. “I think he’s very young, he’s raw. I think the staff is doing a very good job of getting him acclimated to the league. I think he’s going to be really good, man. I think his aggression, his ability to not stop going after the rebound is going to be very key for him. I’m rooting for him. I hope he does really well. I see he’s wearing the No. 0 too, so it’s definitely hitting home for me.”
Duren wore the No. 0 throughout his time in Detroit and Duren picked the number after wearing the No. 2 throughout high school and his lone season at Memphis.
“I know he did some great things during his time (in Detroit),” Duren told The News. “Just rebounding and attacking the glass, he’s shown that he’s dominant early on in his career just like I have. I feel like you can compare us in that aspect, but for me, I feel like I’m my own player in my own form. I heard he had a couple of big rebounding games like 25, 30 so I’m trying to do that same thing.”
Drummond pulled down a career-high 29 rebounds in his fourth season on Nov. 3, 2015 against the Indiana Pacers. Duren said his goal for his rookie season is to tally a 25-rebound game, but guaranteed that he’ll grab 30 in a game before his career is over.
Drummond, currently in his 11th season, signed a two-year, $6.6 million contract with the Bulls in the offseason. He’s tied to the franchise for at least one more year, but there’s ambiguity once that deal expires.
He’s has transitioned from a franchise centerpiece to a journeyman, but he’s still a capable but he rebounder and if the opportunity presents itself, Drummond said he would welcome a return to Pistons before he calls it a career.
“I would love to play back in Detroit near the end of my career, just to close that chapter and go back home where I started.”