Put it on the record people, Andre Drummond will surpass Dwight Howard as the NBA’s best center by this time next year.
Predictions are a dime a dozen, but this is not a joke folks.
In fact, he’s poised to leave any competition behind him.
No disrespect to guys like Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez or Demarcus Cousins, but Drummond is arguably as productive (if not more so) than them right now without any semblance of an offensive arsenal.
What’s scary is that he’s only twenty years old and he’s got time to build these skills.
Drummond’s averaging a double-double on almost 70% shooting without being anywhere near the first, second or third option for the Pistons’ offense. The Pistons don’t pass the ball to him on the block…at all. In a game against the Nets last Sunday, no one passed Drummond the ball until six minutes into the game, and by that time he already had two points and three boards.
Think about that for a second.
If he’s not posting up on the block or having plays ran for him, how is he so productive?
Similar to Dwight Howard, Drummond thrives on his basketball instincts. His feel for the game makes it easy for him to impact the score with or without the ball.
On defense he’s a ball-hawk that doesn’t allow easy layups or putbacks. Plus, he’s quick enough to stick with ball handlers on the perimeter or matchup with big men on the block. His 7-foot plus wingspan makes it tough for anyone to shoot up, under or around him.
Last week, he held Roy Hibbert to only 8 points on 3/8 shooting. Apparently, his defensive intensity spoiled their friendship. Boo-hoo.
Drummond’s also a rebounding magnet. It sounds crazy, but he’s so efficient on the boards that it seems like rebounds are attracted to him. He’s physical enough to win battles under the hoop to secure loose balls, but athletic enough to time his jumps for easy putbacks and emphatic jams.
Drummond could win the NBA rebounding crown before he’s old enough to buy his first case of beer. His activity on the glass is top-5 in the league based on his rebounds per game.
His offensive ability remains a work in progress, but at least he knows his limits. Drummond doesn’t try and do anything outside of his immediate skill set, meaning that he doesn’t force shots or turn the ball over. His ability to play within himself is a sign of maturity–that intangible asset that Dwight Howard still struggles with today.
A young Dwight Howard played within himself years ago, but nowadays Howard is known to force up off-balanced hook shots and awkward turnarounds.
In addition to that, Howard has never had half the hustle that Drummond plays with today. Almost every single one of Drummond’s field goals have come from out working his opponent near the basket.
Whether it be beating the defense up the floor for alley-oops or tipping the ball multiples times to himself, Drummond’s motor never ends. He ought to be the spokesperson for Valvoline.
It’s ludicrous that he’s not getting half the attention that Dwight Howard got as a sophomore in the NBA. Just take a look at their sophomore numbers because they’re eerily similar.
The major difference between Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard comes down to attempts per game.
In Dwight’s second season he was getting almost two more attempts per game and consequently averaged two more points than Drummond.
Chalk that up to personnel differences between Howard and Drummond’s teammates because Howard’s 2004-05 Orlando Magic squad was more limited offensively than Drummond’s current Pistons are, so naturally Howard was ensured to get more offensive opportunities.
Dwight had the luxury of getting plays called for him back then, but the Pistons are more likely to run plays for Josh Smith or Greg Monroe than Andre Drummond.
The good thing for Drummond is that he’s learning from successful, experienced pros. Howard didn’t necessarily get the same opportunity.
Whereas Howard had veterans like Tony Battie and Kelvin Cato to learn from, Drummond gets to see the tenacity and work ethic that All-Star caliber players like Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings put in every day.
That’s invaluable education for a player who wants to succeed. Hopefully they can teach him to practice his foul shooting.
“Even if the UConn product never improves from the foul line,” says Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale, ”he can still be considered elite if he continues on the career trajectory he is on.”
When Drummond finishes this season in the top 10 in double-doubles, it’ll be time to call him elite.
The funny thing is he still won’t be able to buy anyone drink at the bar to celebrate his achievement.
Andre Drummond and the Pistons have a lot to look forward to this year and next.