This year I drafted Andre Drummond in the second round. Last season Drummond was a beast on the boards and put up great numbers in the paint off of easy put backs and alley-oop dunks, and I kicked myself all season for having passed on him. This year coming into the season more mature with a better coach he looked like a sure thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. His first 12 games have been foul-plagued nightmares, the only silver lining of which has been the clear potential he’s shown in his nose for rebounding.
Part of the reason for Drummond’s struggle is that he’s being asked to do very different things this year than he was last season. A lot of Drummond’s points last year came from opportunistic buckets and alley-oops. He and Denver’s Kenneth Faried fall into the same category: energy guys who will make their own points off of other’s missed opportunities through hustle and strength. Drummond has shown flashes of that this year, but seems to be doing it far, far less than he did last season.
This year he’s being asked to operate in the post, to create and make his own shot against a focused defender, rather than rising up for put backs and looking for lobs on the pick and roll. 12 games into the season and it’s clear that Andre simply doesn’t have that skill set yet. He looks clumsy on the block, consistently bricking hook shots from between five and ten feet. Add to that his poor footwork and Drummond’s very clearly not an elite center…yet. It appears as though new coach Stan Van Gundy is asking him to move out of the comfort zone that he dominated last year and his growing pains are obvious to all of us who drafted him in our fantasy leagues thinking he’d produce like he did last season.
Secondly, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the personnel situation on the Pistons is less than ideal for a developing center. The key is clogged in Big D making it difficult for Andre to get quality touches. With Monroe, Smith and Drummond starting the Pistons’ have incredibly poor spacing (and basically encourage Josh Smith to lob midrange jumpers with those two big bodies crowding the key). Add to that Jennings’ propensity for driving instead of dishing and Drummond’s touches in the paint are incredibly limited, especially when he misses consistently.
Sadly, what would be best for Detroit and for Drummond is to have him come off the bench with the second unit, and start veteran small forward Caron Butler. Then they can move Moose to center and have Josh at power forward. Adding Butler to the starting lineup (43% from 3 point range over the last two seasons) would vastly improve the spacing for the starting five. Plus, with Drummond coming off the bench with Jerebko, Singler, Augustin and Dinwiddie he can be the center of attention. With JJ and Singler spreading the floor with shooting, Drummond can have a lot more space to operate in the key and get more touches against the weaker competition of the opponent’s second unit.
Obviously it’s not ideal from a fantasy perspective to have Andre losing minutes to Butler, but from a development standpoint giving Drummond a more impactful role in the second unit might go a long way to increasing his confidence (and hopefully his rebounds and shooting percentages).