On Tuesday night, the Detroit Pistons lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 109-99. There’s no shame in that; it’s actually a closer margin than the Spurs’ average. But during the fourth quarter, with the game still in reach, big man Andre Drummond was glued to the bench, with reserve Aron Baynes manning the middle for the last five minutes. And you can probably guess the reason: free throw shooting.
Drummond has been one of the very worst free throw shooters since he entered the NBA, but he’s on a particularly cold streak that has dropped his season average to 36 percent. And for his struggles, he’s been benched in two of the Pistons’ last three games. Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy made his thoughts on the issue clear to the Detroit Free Press.
“We can’t play hoping we get one point out of a possession,” Van Gundy said. “He was 1-for-6 tonight. Over the last five or six games he’s shooting 17%. He doesn’t leave me a choice. That’s just the way it goes.
“We’re down eight points, nine points, we gotta be playing for two or three – not hoping maybe we get one maybe every two, three possessions. That’s not gonna get it done.”
Harsh words from a coach about his star, but when the more analytical (and thus open to “hack-a-Drummond”) coaches like Gregg Popovich and the Celtics’ Brad Stevens (against whom SVG benched Drummond initially) come to town, he’s completely right. It doesn’t matter how good Drummond is on the glass or on defense if his presence on the floor means the Pistons don’t get to have real offensive possessions.
Drummond’s foul shooting problem is much like that of Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan. All of them work on their free throws and have been in the league long enough to show improvement, but there’s a mental issue at play here. The big guys know they’re targets for this sort of treatment, and it seems to sap their confidence. Being benched for the same issue can’t help his confidence, but it’s the only option Van Gundy has left to him at this point.
Rick Barry mechanics from the charity stripe won’t get past the psychological issues at play, either.
(Via Detroit Free Press)