Dumars, Pistons hoping patience pays with Drummond


Dumars, Pistons hoping patience pays with Drummond

ORLANDO, Fla. Former UConn big man Andre Drummond, the youngest member of the 2012 NBA draft class, has already figured out some old school tricks of the trade.

During a time-out against the Orlando Magic summer league team, Drummond, drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the first round with the No. 9 overall pick, stayed right next to Magic forward Kyle O'Quinn who tried to go to different parts of the court, only to find Drummond right there with him.

"I did that purposely," Drummond said. "It's a part of the game, try and get in people's heads; get them out of their rhythm. I kept following him around and it looked like he got annoyed, so I kept doing it. It kind of threw him off a little bit."

Drummond has already taken strides towards the mental aspect of the game which is kind of scary when you consider how physically gifted the 18-year-old is right now.

While Drummond certainly has played well in the Pistons' first two preseason games, the Pistons plan on being as patient as possible when it comes to his development.

"We said from Day 1, that we are absolutely not going to judge his immediate impact on the floor," Joe Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com. "The big thing about him, is his work ethic, getting him to be a pro and how to grow into becoming a pro. We're not so much worried about production on the floor right now or immediate impact. We're simply looking at his growth pattern."

Said Drummond: "I'm a young guy, soak up as much as I can and wait until year two to make that next step. Right now, I'm just trying to have a great learning process."

Because of his youth, most agree that the upside to Drummond's game is huge. But with that youth comes a high degree of uncertainty as to the kind of player Detroit would be getting.

"I was concerned about learning as much as I could about the kid," Dumars said. "That was the main concern for us. We did a tremendous amount of background on this kid. We talked to more people pertaining to the background of this kid, than any kid we ever drafted. Because he was so young. We wanted to make sure that we had a feel for this kid. Is he going to come in and work? Is he receptive to tough coaching? Is he receptive to being patient?

"We needed to find out all those things before we decided to draft this kid. We did a lot of homework on this kid. Very smart kid, very bright kid. The only thing now is, half is on him to continue working hard. The other half is on us to bring him along at the right pace."

Part of that is allowing him to grow without the necessary pressure that comes with being a top-10 pick.

"When you're dealing with an 18-year-old, it would be unfair of us to judge him on his immediate impact," Dumars said. "He's so young. We realize that. We're not just going to throw him out there just because we took him with the ninth pick. But we like the growth potential in this guy."

In Detroit's 76-73 win on Monday over Utah, Drummond had eight points, five rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

The Pistons defeated Orlando 79-74 on Tuesday, but Drummond's impact was nearly as great. He had three points, three rebounds and a blocked shot.

Whether you're a lottery pick or a free agent pick-up, there are going to be stretches of up and down play. But the potential for greatness - and the fact it comes in such a young package - gives the Pistons hope that the best days of Drummond's career are indeed ahead of him.

"We feel he's going to be a very good player in this league," Dumars said. "But it's going to take a little time. Of course we'd love if he came out and just dominated, but we know it's a process that we are absolutely not going to rush."

Dumars added, "The one thing about him, he listens. And he takes in everything you say to him.The fact that he's listening and he's willing to learn at 18 years old is great for him and his future, as well as for us with him part of that future."

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice


Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

The NBA is honoring longtime TNT broadcaster Craig Sager to begin the season, with teams wearing Sager-themed shirts across the league. 

Sager, 65, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014, and it was announced in March that he had an expected three-to-six months to live. 

The Celtics celebrated Sager in full force at the end of Tuesday’s practice, changing into shirts with multi-colored flowers and clashing patterns in an ode to Sager’s signature style. The group gathered for pictures and shouted “Sager Strong,” a hashtag that’s circulated in support of the 65-year-old. 

After news emerged that his cancer had returned in March, TNT worked out a deal with ABC that allowed Sager to cover the NBA Finals for the first time in his 34-year career, leading to a memorable exchange with LeBron James after the Cavaliers won the NBA title.