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Maurice Cheeks will play Andre Drummond this year. Hurray.

Oct 1, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT

Andre Drummond

This shouldn’t be news.

Last season, Andre Drummond posted per-36-minute scoring (13.8), rebounding (13.2) and shot-blocking (2.8) rates that have been matched only by Dwight Howard, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Walton, Robert Parrish, Marvin Webster and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (minimum: 300 minutes). With the exception of Webster, those are all Hall of Famers.

And Drummond did it as a 19-year-old rookie.

Yet, Drummond played just 20.7 minutes per game. That’s on a 29-53 team starting Jason Maxiell.

The strange decision to relegate Drummond to the bench for most of the season probably cost Lawrence Frank his job, and without the right breaks, maybe his NBA head-coaching career.

Now, Maurice Cheeks steps in acts sensibly.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Cheeks said he isn’t looking to limit Drummond and expects big things in his second season.

“I’m going to put him out on the floor for sure,” Cheeks said. “I’m not looking not to play him, I’m looking to play him. He’s going to be out on the floor. There’s no other way to say it.”

There are plenty of reasons to somewhat limit Drummond’s minutes. He’s still building up his conditioning, and a 6-foot-10, 270-pound frame probably isn’t easy on his knees. Plus, with Josh Smith and Greg Monroe also starting, Cheeks should probably stagger the rotation so, as often as possible, just two of those big men share the court.

But Drummond can be Detroit’s best player. He’s a shot-blocking, lob-finishing giant who can could lead a team to the playoffs. He needs to be on the court.

He should have been more last year, but it’s too late to fix that. Cheeks can control only this season’s playing time, and it sounds like he’ll do better than his predecessor.

  1. adamsjohn714 - Oct 1, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    If a good player is building up his conditioning, it makes much more sense to start him. If he can only play in 5 min. bursts, wouldn’t you want him on the court to start the game? Or is the argument being made that he gets tired from warmups?

    • asimonetti88 - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      You could argue that you’re more likely to get injured when you’re tired.

  2. aboogy123456 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Despite all the stats you mentioned, Dan, you forgot to include that he averaged 5.8 fouls per 48 minutes. He will get more and more minutes as he develops into a dominant center, but he still needs to develop and learn how to stay on the court.

  3. ProBasketballPundit - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Wish Drummond would have played a few more minutes last year. I bet on him for rookie of the year at some sweet odds.

  4. charlesasmithjr - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Agreed!

  5. katra2logic - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    On the minus side he is a terrible free throw shooter (liability at crunch time) and a poor passer to boot. Still, Detroit had nothing to lose by playing (and developing) him more last season.

    • khadeemw - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:21 PM

      hes actually not a bad passer

  6. bugsygod - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Good Job Coach Cheeks…(sarcasm). Least he is not stupid and stubborn.

  7. papichulo55 - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    I’m thinking that he will have foul problems that will keep him on the bench. The Floppers will school the youngbuck, but he will be a beast by next season!

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