Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Andre Drummond, had he stayed healthy and got the minutes he deserved this season, might have been able to challenge Damian Lillard for the Rookie of the Year Award.
He is that good.
But the 19-year-old big man out of the University of Connecticut spent too much time on the sideline—due to both injury and coach Lawrence Frank's whim—to take the league by storm.
In the final days of the season, however, he has the chance to showcase himself as a player who can become the future foundation of the Detroit Pistons.
Last night, in particular, he earned acclaim from Sam Amico of Fox Sports, who tweeted: "Pistons' Andre Drummond 9-10 shooting, 19 pts, 8 rebs with 2:36 to go in 3Q. I'm seeing a future All-Star. Like, maybe next year."
Drummond was perhaps even more impressive in the fourth quarter, knocking down 8-of-14 free throws as the Cleveland Cavaliers used a "Hack-and-Shaq"-style strategy to put him on the line.
In the past, Drummond, a 35.6 percent free-throw shooter this year, says he has tried to avoid getting fouled in such situations, according to David Mayo of Michigan Live.
But now, he is embracing it in hopes of building his confidence.
"At first, I tried to avoid it," he said. "But then I was like, 'There's no point in me avoiding it because they're going to see the fear.' I've just got to build confidence. So that's what I did today. When they fouled me, I was like, 'All right, you know you're going to make these, don't trip.'
"The more and more that they foul me, the more and more I get confident."
Clearly, learning how to make at least half his freebies—something he did last night while knocking down at least one each time he went to the line—is something Drummond needs to learn how to do. If he can continue to do so in the next week, he should be able to enter next season with a world of confidence.
And then he can take over the league.