One of the great early season NBA stories is the continuing emergence of Andre Drummond, the outstanding coaching job that Stan Van Gundy is doing and the Detroit Pistons' simultaneous ascension and transition back into a formidable squad that will need to be reckoned with come playoff time. Last night, the 17-12 Pistons overcame an early 18-point deficit and knocked off the 16-11 Miami Heat by a score of 93-92.
Drummond, who is averaging 18 points, 16 rebounds and nearly two blocks and two steal per game, is playing like the second-coming of Moses Malone. Point guard Reggie Jackson, who is putting up 20 points, six assists and four rebounds per game, is among the league's other compelling surprise stories.
Detroit is getting solid production as well from Marcus Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ersan Ilysasova and rookie Stanley Johnson. After notching only 32, 29, 29 and 25 wins over the last four seasons, the party has returned to the Palace.
But with the victory and good times resurfacing for Pistons fans, when the thrill of this victory fades as the season progresses, the lasting memories of this game will be the hammers that Chris Bosh and Justise Winslow dropped.
Bosh made a sincere point with his two-handed banger over Drummond, one of the league's strongest and best rim protectors, that he might be advancing in age and seen as more of a finesse big man who's comfortable on the perimeter shooting jumpers, but he's still an elite player with some supreme elevation still left in him.
Justise Winslow walked into the NBA this year fresh off of his one-and-done national championship campaign at Duke with a reputation for ferocious defense. That defense happens to be coupled with some world class athleticism as well, as he showed while putting up the filthiest highlight slam of his young career thus far.
After tapping the ball loose from fellow rookie Stanley Johnson, Winslow corralled the rock, motored toward the rim and dern near caught an assault charge against Ersan Ilyasova, who caught a bad one in the process of swallowing Winslow's vicious left-handed rim-wrecker.
In the same way that the Heat's loss was overshadowed by Bosh and Winslow's stealth bombs, San Diego State's 6-foot-7 freshman Zylan Cheatham said "Hello" to a national audience with his phenomenal windmill dunk against Kansas last night.
The Jayhawks' Perry Ellis was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the game's opening 11 minutes and Kansas dusted the Aztecs off 70-57, but the lasting memory of the game will not be Ellis' excellence, the depth of the Kansas bench and how well-drilled Bill Self's teams always are, but rather the early Christmas present that Cheatham left as he descended down the chimney.