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Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond entered this season as a career 38.4 percent free throw shooter and huge liability to his team, considering opposing clubs use the “Hack-A-Drummond” strategy which slows down the Pistons’ offense.
Drummond, however, vowed to improve on his free throw shooting over the summer and the early returns are very promising.
Against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night, Drummond set a career-high for free throw makes in a game, going 14-of-16 from the charity stripe in Detroit’s 106-96 home victory.
Drummond finished with a double-double against the Bucks, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to lead the Pistons to their sixth win of the season.
Head coach Stan Van Gundy said the franchise has seen all the hard work Drummond has put in and that he’s not surprised at all by the results.
He’s even going as far as saying teams won’t use the “Hack-A-Drummond” tactic anymore.
“Obviously [the Bucks’] idea was, ‘We’ll just let him catch the ball and then we’ll hammer him.’ I don’t think that strategy is going to work this year,” Van Gundy told ESPN. “I don’t. A night like tonight, that’s not a fluke. If you’re a 35 percent shooter in your career and you go 8-for-16, ah, maybe you just had a good night, but 14-for-16? And you saw them, they all looked good. It wasn’t banking them in. We’ve seen it coming the whole preseason. Early in the season and training camp, so we’ve seen it for a solid five or six weeks now, so I’m not surprised by it tonight.”
Drummond cites a new mental approach at the free throw line which has helped him feel more at ease. The 6-11 All-Star says his confidence no longer gets shaken when he misses a free throw like it did in the past.
“It’s just a testament, over the years, not even just the summer, just throughout the years, the hard work I’ve put in to finding something that really works,” Drummond said. “And me feeling mentally strong if I do miss a shot to come back and knock down the next [ones] after that. It’s just a mental toughness thing — being ready all the time to shoot the same shot.”
The Pistons can only hope Drummond keeps this up for the entire season and that it’s not just an early year fluke.