9.30.2012

Did Dumars Just Take Another Darko-Like Gamble?




The whispers grew louder on Draft Day and Joe Dumars couldn't believe what he heard.

And this was a pretty BIG surprise.

The Pistons got the best pure center available in 18-year-old man-child Andre Drummond. Before the Unibrow - otherwise known as Kentucky's Anthony Davis - dominated the collegiate ranks last season, Drummond was generally considered the top overall prospect.

He's a risk. Dumars hasn't had much good fortune in drafting teenage centers, but Drummond was a tremendous value pick.

There's no guesswork in figuring out what position the 6-foot-11, 280-pounder will fill. Drummond becomes the first true prototypical center at the Palace since the Buddha Train - James Edwards - rolled down the tracks during the Bad Boys' championship days.

"We've waited a long time to get specifically this kind of big man," Dumars said.

There's always a possibility that the fears of immaturity and lack of self-motivation that pushed Drummond down the lottery could turn him into Darko, The Sequel, somebody more in love with the trappings of the NBA life than he is with the game itself. But Dumars did as much extensive research on the young man as he could in the previous 48 hours.

He said he hurriedly contacted Drummond's representatives Tuesday afternoon seeking a workout in New York City later that evening, but they thought there was no way imaginable that their client would drop below the sixth pick.

"But they called back a couple hours later and said we should come in," Dumars said.

Dumars and his assistant, George David, quickly hustled a flight Tuesday evening and found a gym at a fitness center on 61st Street for a clandestine individual workout and intensive interview.

They were with Drummond from 10:30 p.m. to just after midnight.

Dumars said he vowed after the darko milicic debacle in 2003 that he would never again settled for limited information - particularly when evaluating 18-year-olds. Whereas he only had two sources of information regarding milicic, dumars said he had close to a dozen different background sources for drummond. they even talked with his sixth-grade teacher.

Dumars' decisions to spend salary-cap space on bad contracts to free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in 2009 has proved disastrous, as has the decision to hire career assistant John Kuester as coach. The Pistons, who failed to make the playoffs for a second straight year, become an embarrassment in a season that included a player revolt against Kuester.

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