TWIN TOWERS Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. – Andre Smith photo
By Leland Stein III
AUBURN HILLS – The proud Detroit Pistons franchise has been relevant and out front in the NBA wars for too many years to recount.
However, in the past few years the Pistons have been an afterthought in the Detroit sports community..
No matter, at the Detroit Pistons have started its 2012 training camp the feel around The Palace of Auburn Hills is one of sincere optimism.
The root of the Pistons uplift starts with the center Greg Monroe. He is not spectacular or a high flyer, but he is efficient and hard working.
The hope is that University of Connecticut first round 2012 NBA Draft pick center Andre Drummond will give Monroe the space needed to step his game to an All-Star level.
The fact of the matter is many in the NBA circles, many of the players already consider Monroe an All-Star. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James both told me in London that the 2012 Dream Team could have used Monroe, not to disparage any of the other selection.
However, they noted that Monroe’s skill set would have fit nicely with what the 2012 Team USA was trying to accomplish.
No matter, because of the Pistons inept overall record, Monroe’s elevation as a player was not as visible and as a result a college player like Anthony Davis was put on Team USA.
Pistons’ draft pick Drummond, only 18, was the draft’s second-youngest player, after of course, Davis. Because of his age and being very raw offensively, he dropped down from a project fourth to sixth selection on the first round.
“When we came out of the Chicago predraft camp, he was one of the players we met with,” Pistons President Joe Dumars told reporters. “When he left the room, we all looked around and said, ‘Well, that’s the last time we see him.’ I’ve been saying that for three straight years, but – really – this guy wasn’t supposed to be there at nine, for real this time.”
Concurred Drummond: “We had the meeting in Chicago and we just had this certain vibe for each other. I think we would be a great fit for each other. All I know is that I’m walking into a brotherhood and I’m walking into a great family and coaching staff and the organization is amazing. I know that I’m going to grow as a player and as a person. I know the fans are great out there, so I just can’t wait to play in Detroit.
As the pres-season games commence the Pistons do indeed have a very young core led by rookie Drummond, and, up and coming young future stars Monroe and point guard Brandon Knight..
The Pistons open the 2012-13 season on October 31 at home versus the Houston Rockets.
The team needs to get off to a good start to win back it loyal faithful that kicked the team to the curb over the past three years of losing.
Just as quick as one can say Jumping-Jack-Flash, a Pistons team that had set consecutive sellout records and played in six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, drop from the public conscious like a giant boulder in water.
Will this be the group to awake the basketball faithful in the Detroit Metro Area?
The Pistons have added 13-year veteran Corey Maggette, who can play the small forward and shooting guard. So far in practice the Pistons coaches have praise his effort. Maggette have never been short of talent, it is just that injuries have knocked him out the box to too many seasons to mention.
The Pistons have also added 2011 draft pick swing man Kyle Singler and center Viacheslav Kravtsov, along with 2012 draft picks Khris Middleton (Texas A&M) and Kim English (Missouri).
The Pistons youth movement should now be in full bloom. In fact it is about time that the franchise devoted its direction to its draft picks and its young players.
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com or at Twitter @lelandsteinIII