Like other young Detroit-area professional athletes, the Detroit Pistons‘ top pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Andre Drummond, has immense potential.
But the 18-yeard old former one-year UConn star faced his share of criticism prior to the draft. Critics said he lacked a motor, desire, and could be tabbed as “lazy.” That sounds a bit like the Detroit Lions‘ young potential star, Nick Fairley, who has been described in similar fashion.
The Pistons have to take a stern approach with Drummond from the start. The Lions haven’t done that — at least that’s the way it’s appeared — with their youngsters, namely Fairley. Drummond could fall victim to the fast lifestyle that comes with quick money and fame if he’s not properly guided. Fairley sure has.
Keep in mind that, though just a few years in age apart from Fairley, Drummond is still a kid. He’ll be 19 in August. He didn’t spend a few years in college, where many athletes mature and learn how to handle themselves as an adult. Drummond is just over a year removed from high school, and the risk of him making poor decisions is much greater than that of a 22- or 23-year old coming out of college.
Pistons president Joe Dumars may be far advanced in terms of “raising a player” than his fellow Detroit coaches are. The Lions have obviously made mistakes, failing to effectively manage guys like Fairley, Mikel Leshoure, Aaron Berry and Johnny Culbreath — each have had marijuana- or DUI-related cases during the offseason. Some of the young 20-somethings have been in trouble more than once.
In order to make sure that the potential of the Pistons’ star-center-in-the-making isn’t cut short before it develops, coddling, perhaps, may be necessary to an extent. Suggesting the Pistons “baby” Drummond is illogical. He has to grow up on his own terms. However, the fact that he’s still in the high school age bracket — and likely thinks more like a prep senior than a college senior — makes it all the more important for the Pistons to get it right with Drummond.
“You’ve got to have that child, or that person, or that player, surrounded in an environment with good people,” Dumars told MLive.com’s David Mayo. “Not just by one good person, because what if that person’s not around that day? It should never fall on one person. So for me, it’s the environment. It’s the entire culture that you put the kid in, the work ethic that he sees on a daily basis, what he sees every day.”
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank is also aware of the growing pains that could be ahead for Drummond.
“This is going to be a big adjustment for Andre, in all aspects – physically, emotionally, mentally,” Frank told Mayo. “It is for everyone but especially an 18-year-old.”
One aspect that will be important for Drummond’s boom-or-bust potential is this: He has to have reliable support from his franchise. Words to the media only go so far. Dumars and Co. have to be committed to Drummond’s development. He’s a first-round pick that has the chance to really add strength and stability to Detroit’s frontcourt and complement Greg Monroe.
There is little room for error with Drummond.
Early miscues would probably torch any chance of him becoming the player he’s capable of being. Dumars and the Pistons should look toward the Lions and analyze the way they’ve handled young players — and do the opposite.