Andre Drummond shakes David Stern's hand after being picked by the Pistons. Detroit hoped he would slide down the draft board.
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Earlier this week, Joe Dumars began to suspect that Andre Drummond might actually be available when it was Detroit's turn to pick in the NBA draft.
So on Tuesday, the Pistons' president of basketball operations hopped on a plane and headed to New York for what Dumars called a "clandestine workout" with the Connecticut big man.
In the second round, with the 39th overall pick, the Pistons selected Texas A&M power forward Khris Middleton to add depth to their frontcourt bench.
Sure enough, Detroit was able to pick Drummond with the ninth pick Thursday night, adding another young big man to go along with Greg Monroe inside. The 6-foot-10, 270-pound Drummond averaged 10 points and 7.6 rebounds last season as an 18-year-old freshman.
He will join Brandon Knight and Monroe -- Detroit's last two first-round picks -- as part of a young nucleus the Pistons hope they can build around. Detroit has missed the playoffs the last three seasons.
"We have two young big men now. Greg is 22 years old, and Andre is obviously 18," Dumars said. "Brandon is 20 years old. ... We feel good about the young core of guys we've drafted the last few years."
The Pistons took Knight last year at No. 8 when some of the top big men were already taken. Now they're adding another inside presence who may be able to make an impact alongside Monroe -- or take some of the attention from him.
"I've been watching Greg since he was at Georgetown," Drummond said. "He's a great player, and he's definitely a student of the game."
While Monroe has shown promise offensively with his skill around the basket, the Pistons are trying to become the type of smothering defensive team they were when they won championships in 1989, 1990, and 2004.
Drummond could help in that regard. He was 14th in the nation and third in the Big East with 2.7 blocks per game in 2011-12.
Big men like John Henson and Tyler Zeller, both of North Carolina, and Kentucky forward Terrence Jones were expected to be available around the time Detroit was picking. Drummond's availability was a bit more of a surprise, and the Pistons nabbed him.
Drummond still has some maturing to do at the offensive end -- he shot under 30 percent from the free throw line last year -- but the Pistons may not ask him to score much, at least at first.
"Greg's not an above-the-rim, high-flying, shot-blocking athlete like that," Dumars said. "They complement each other that way. They cover for each other's weaknesses."
The 6-foot-11 Monroe averaged 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last season.
Middleton averaged 13.2 points per game last season as a junior for the Aggies. The 6-foot-7 Middleton is considered a good midrange threat and a solid passer, although he shot only 41.5 percent from the field in 2011-12.
Middleton missed 12 games last season with a knee injury. He started 72 games in three seasons before declaring early for the draft. His best year was as a sophomore when he averaged 14.4 points and 5.2 rebounds.