For two weeks, Andre Drummond has been waiting for Rasheed Wallace to accede to his desire to partake in spirited competition. Monday was that day.
“He always says he wants to catch me when I’m tired,” Drummond grinned – perhaps an indication of which side came out on top – after he and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went two on two against Coach Sheed and Peyton Siva. “So he thought today would be a good day to get me.”
Drummond has been joined at the hip with Wallace, a first-time assistant coach but long regarded as one of the shrewdest big men at either end in recent NBA history, since returning from his successful week at USA Basketball’s July minicamp in Las Vegas. Wallace took care of him in H-O-R-S-E last month, but every day Drummond soaks up a little more of the nuance that made Wallace so unique and well-rounded.
After their usual instructional period on Monday, Wallace called for the equipment assistant to fetch two Pistons practice jerseys – it was time for the matchup Drummond requested, the rookie guards enlisted to make it interesting. Drummond showed off a jump hook with either hand rarely in evidence during his rookie season, shot jump shots within his range with no hesitation and hung in there with all the mental warfare Wallace managed to throw at him.
“They have me shooting mid-range jump shots now,” he said. “I’m putting the ball on the floor, shooting left- and right-hand jump hooks. I’m feeling comfortable now with my offensive game.”
Drummond prides himself on his quick hands. Go back and look at the sequence against Miami’s Dwyane Wade last season, when Drummond stripped Wade twice within a matter of minutes, for evidence of his unique hand agility. But Wallace taught him a few tricks on Monday.
“People seem to say I have pretty quick hands. I take the ball away from people,” Drummond said. “His hands are excellent. He knows where to find the ball and slap it out of somebody’s hands. He stripped the ball from me a few times. I was like, ‘That stuff doesn’t usually happen.’ I asked him different things he does. He said, ‘Just wait for them to show you the ball and just take it.’ I usually don’t get stripped that easy because I usually have the ball up here. Very crafty defender, very crafty. Pulled the chair on me a few times, too. He’s still a great player.”
With just three weeks left until training camp opens, more players are rotating through the team’s practice facility and the level of activity is accelerating. Chauncey Billups, who for years has done his off-season training in Las Vegas, was in last week. Josh Smith is in the gym. Drummond said by next week, virtually everyone will have congregated in Auburn Hills. Even spread across the country, he says teammates have been in frequent contact with each other and everyone is itchy for Oct. 1 to arrive.
“A lot of guys are starting to come in,” he said. “It’s good to have the guys here so we can compete with each other in two on two, three on three. The communication is there. Everybody is ready to go. It’s like, ‘Damn, when is training camp ready to start?’ We’re all ready to go.”
Drummond spent some time in Los Angeles last week and crossed paths with Brandon Jennings, who told him he’d be in Auburn Hills very soon, as well. Drummond also spent some time – well-documented on his Twitter account – with young actress Jennette McCurdy, who starred in the Nickelodeon series “iCarly” from 2007-12, which had a huge fan in a certain Connecticut teenager who was tall for his age. Drummond, who admits he had a crush on McCurdy, reached out to her via Twitter and, lo and behold, she responded. The two met for dinner in Los Angeles, spent a little time together and are now dating, he said.
“I (mentioned wanting to meet her) on Twitter a couple of times and she caught wind of it and it went from there,” he said. “We just went out, had dinner, got to know each other a little bit. Nothing crazy. We had fun. Now the focus is on the season.”
As the “veteran” who’s been the most consistent presence at the practice facility this summer, Drummond has become the pied piper to the team’s three rookie draft choices – Caldwell-Pope, Siva and Tony Mitchell. He’s helped them learn the ropes in getting around and organized some after-workout get-togethers.
“It’s been great,” he said. “Ever since I’ve had them out here, I’ve tried to take them around, get to different places. We went to Dave & Busters. I took Peyton out to eat. We went go-karting. Just little fun spots so everybody could get a feel for each other. Josh Harrellson was in there, too. It’s been good these past couple of weeks.”
Apparently, he’s been eating the right foods when he takes the rookies to dine. Drummond said that after reaching 295 pounds last season, gaining a moderate amount when he was shelved for nearly two months with a back injury, he’s at 284 now with his body fat hovering between 4 and 5 percent.
“Feeling real good,” he said. “My body feels great. I’m moving quicker than I was last year, so I feel good. I’m right where I want to be going into training camp. My wind is good. I worked real hard this summer to get back to where I need to be.”