DETROIT -- Pistons center Andre Drummond set a career high for free throw makes in a game on Friday night, sinking 14 of his 16 free throw attempts in a 105-96 win over the Bucks.
Drummond, a career 38.4 percent free throw shooter, has improved dramatically this season after working on his foul shots all summer. After his performance against the Bucks, Drummond is 28-for-36 on the season, much to the delight of his teammates and coaches.
"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," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "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."
Drummond notes a renewed focus at the line and in his mental approach as reasons why he has improved so dramatically. He spent time working with two different trainers over the summer so he could find a difference this season at the charity stripe.
"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 after the game. "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."
Drummond has the same routine each time he goes to the line now. He takes a deep breath, stares toward the rim and then bends his knees even lower than he has in the past. It's a recipe that has served him well during the first month of the season.
"He's probably one of our best free throw shooters at this point," Pistons veteran Anthony Tolliver said. "It just changes everything. It changes the entire makeup of our team. As long as he continues that, we're going to be tough to beat."
Nobody within the Pistons' locker room seems all that surprised at Drummond's recent transformation after seeing the work he has put in over the past few months.
"We've seen it coming the whole preseason," Van Gundy said. "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."
For his part, Drummond is trying to take his newfound weapon in stride. He appreciated the standing ovation he got after making a nice steal and then knocking home another free throw at the end of the third quarter. He knows he has come a long way and is proud of the work he has put in to get to this point.
"I wasn't even counting, but after the fourth quarter [started] I got up to the line and [went], 'Damn, I've been up here a lot today,'" Drummond said. "But it was good to see them go in."