Examining Andre Drummond's Ceiling in His Rookie Season

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterOctober 12, 2012

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 21:  Andre Drummond #1 of the Detroit Pistons poses for a portrait during the 2012 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at the MSG Training Center on August 21, 2012 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

He was thought to be the most likely bust candidate among draft picks. I argued his case to quite a few people, but was summarily dismissed by friend, fan and colleague alike. They still could be right. The archetype of "stiff" had already defined Andre Drummond after a disappointing college season. He was Kwame Brown in the eyes of many detractors and the wisdom of crowds is often, well, wise. 

Then Andre Drummond came into the draft looking svelte, having lost 22 pounds after leaving UConn. Fat is potential in disguise, as some Kevin Love fans might attest to, but teams still passed on Andre. The 19-year-old free fell to ninth in a draft where the fourth pick wasn't even starting.

Whatever Drummond did at Connecticut was hindered by excess weight. Though there's always the possibility that he'll continue to have weight issues over the course of his career, he's demonstrably more limber in his new physique. Wednesday night's preseason game showcased the new Drummond and it was thrilling to behold. 

You can dismiss this as a mere preseason game and I'll certainly understand. But it means something that Drummond could flaunt his potential in an NBA setting. If we were holding a 2012 re-draft (don't put it past Dictator Stern), I doubt Drummond goes ninth again.

Free-throw shooting scared many teams away. The young big man shot a piddling .295 from the stripe last season. Based on his high school figures, he's probably closer to 40 percent over a wider sample size, but that's still awful.

Though free throws may hold back Andre Drummond's offensive game, his defensive potential should excite basketball nerds. His dunks are fun, but what struck me was how often Drummond flew into passing lanes. With an over 7'6" wingspan, he covers more horizontal territory than any relevant NBA player. He's not exactly short either, at 6'11.75" in shoes. 

The difference between Andre and some other lank merchants is that Drummond can really move. With the proper training, this kid has the potential to blow up pick-and-rolls for eons. Anthony Davis is the best defensive prospect in the last 20 years. Were Davis not in this draft, Detroit's new pick would be the best defensive prospect of this year and beyond.

It is rare that a player comes into the league with agility, speed, a 7'6.25" wingspan and 270 pounds of low-post granite. Rarer still is that particular player falling to ninth in a draft. Wednesday assures nothing, but it could allude to Detroit's great 2012 draft heist.