At just below 7’0” tall, Drummond can run the floor like Amar’e Stoudemire, leap above the rim like Dwight Howard and make his presence felt on the defensive end on a regular basis.
That being said, there’s plenty of room to grow.
At such a young age, the Detroit Pistons’ center is learning how to play the game at a new level. His low-post game needs work, and how well he adjusts will have a big impact on his effectiveness early in his career.
Drummond has signed with Adidas, and while attending an event at the Adidas Village in Portland, Ore., I had a chance to briefly chat with the big man (who comically introduced himself to me as “Jeff”) about his transition to the NBA.
Bleacher Report: Your draft class is being considered one of the best draft classes to come along in a long time. What do you think that does for motivation, or pressure; or does that add anything to the rookie experience?
Andre Drummond: It was a great draft class. Every year is a great draft class, really, and I think as far as ours it was a kind of special one cause we all played against each other in high school and we’ve all been around each other... so it’s kind of cool seeing some of my friends, some of my former teammates actually make it this far. I mean, same draft as me, so it’s pretty exciting for me.
What’s been the biggest transition up to this point going from a college basketball player to being a professional athlete?
It wasn’t much of a big transition. It’s just being a little bit more independent now and knowing what to do with more free time and money, and as of now, I’m trying to get better as a basketball player, get really acquainted with my teammates. Try and probably do a couple classes throughout the year, and that’s pretty much it really; just trying to transition over and get it going.
Have you had a chance to meet many of your teammates?
I definitely have. I’ve already met Tayshaun (Prince), Austin Daye; I’ve probably met everybody except for Ben Wallace.
What can you learn from one of the best up-and-coming big men in Greg Monroe?
Greg is great. He’s a similar player to myself. We are very interchangeable, we run the floor well, we shoot the ball, we score and defend. He’s a hell of a player, so just being that he’s been here for a little bit now, he can teach me some of the ins and outs of the NBA. He hasn’t been there for that long, really, so we both can learn from each other.
How well do you think you fit in with the current roster, the personalities on the team and the styles of play?
I think me going to the Pistons was a great situation for me because they don’t really have great rebounding, so I think me coming in, that’s one of the things I can offer right away is rebound the ball and block shots. I think this year we’ll be a better defensive team as well because I think that we’re gonna pick it up a whole lot this year. Coach Frank, he’s gonna work us real hard, and we’re gonna play really hard for the team.
What kind of rookie hazing do you think is going to come your way?
That’s a good question. I don’t know if nothing will really happen to me. I’m just trying to stay in my lane; just keep to the side. I’m not gonna do too much interacting until the season gets going.
At what point in your basketball career did you know you were headed for the NBA?
Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I wasn’t really planning on going to the NBA. I just wanted to focus on school and just play basketball in college. A great opportunity was offering me, so I decided I was gonna go ahead and shoot for the stars. I mean, it’s always been a dream of mine to be in the NBA. Actually, some of my favorite players, Michael Jordan, Shaq, Hakeem Olajuwon, watching some of his highlights as well, so it’s just been a dream come true really that I’m here, and it’s kinda starting to really hit me that I’m actually here.
So you’re a fan of the big men of the past? Hakeem? Shaquille?
The NBA seems to be transitioning down to a point guard’s game. What can you and the next generation of players do to boost it back up to a center’s game, or a big man’s game?
Everybody has different styles of play. I just think for the team that I’m on right now, I know we are very team-oriented. We share the ball and we just play as a whole, so I think that whole thing about a point guard maintaining the whole game, I don’t think it’s true. I think that, for my team, I think that we’re gonna have a great chemistry and we’re gonna play really well this year.
Heading into the draft, there was a lot of talk from scouts; they wanted to try and say some things like your motor isn’t the highest, maybe your intensity isn’t the highest, but you’ve spoken a lot in the past about how much you love the game of basketball and how you’re just always smiling. Do you take offense when people say things like that?
People will talk about you until the day you die, really. Everybody’s not gonna have good things to say about you. Everything that comes with good, there’s always bad behind it as well, so that’s just how I look at it. People say things, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have a good motor,’ or, ‘He doesn’t play hard,’ but I just, I know what it is and what I do, and if my coaching staff didn’t believe in me they wouldn’t have me on the team as well, so everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. As long as I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and my coaching staff believes in me, all that stuff goes over my head.
You mentioned some of your favorite players from the past. Do you have any favorite players who you love to watch from today’s game, and who do you think you most closely resemble?
Dwight Howard, definitely watch him a lot. I watch a lot of Amar’e (Stoudemire). Some of his game, he’s very mobile; that’s the kind of game I have. I run the floor a lot; so does he. A lot of Andrew Bynum as well; very physical player. He makes moves and gets himself to the rim.
Are those the guys you most closely resemble heading into the NBA?
I don’t really try to resemble my game after anybody. I just try to make my own brand and my own mold. I try to be Andre Drummond, I don’t try to feed off anybody else. I mean, I take bits and pieces from people’s games, but I just try and make my own stomp on this game.
Having spent so much time around this 2012 class, as you have, who do you think will win the Rookie of the Year award?
That’s not for us to decide, really. We can’t really decide who’s gonna get the Rookie of the Year. I’ve heard anything from Damian Lillard down onto some other people that were in the top 10 as well. Nobody really knows. That’s not for us to decide; it’s for how we play, and whoever decides that is gonna choose that.
Do you think you can have a bigger impact on the offensive or the defensive side of the floor?
Absolutely on the defensive end because I’m a very defensive-minded person, so I try and block a lot of shots, grab rebounds and offensively I’m gonna let it come to me. Let them feed me the ball, and finish around the rim.
Generally, what do you expect to get out of your rookie season both on and off the court?
For the rookie season, I just plan on coming in, working real hard and when I get my time to play I’m just gonna grab rebounds, block shots and finish around the rim, really. I’m just gonna really try and help my team get a lot of wins this season.