Going into the 2012 NBA Draft, there was considerable uncertainty as to whether there were any potential superstars available besides consensus #1 pick Anthony Davis.
A few weeks into the young season, there is far less doubt.
Davis has all ready played very well and Damian Lillard has stolen most of the headlines with a historically strong rookie start. Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and Dion Waiters have also flashed star potential with their early play.
However, perhaps no rookie has made as surprising an impact as center Andre Drummond.
Drafted ninth by the Detroit Pistons, Drummond has already displayed a superior brand of physical and athletic ability in his brief time in the league. Despite being only 19 years old, Drummond usually appears to be the strongest and most athletically gifted player on the court. He is second among rookies in Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares Per 48 Minutes, and frankly, the numbers don't begin to tell the story of Drummond's freakish physical potential on the court.
Standing almost seven feet tall and weighing 280 pounds, Drummond is one of the larger players in the league, and certainly one the quickest for his position. Everything that Drummond does on the court comes with a sense of rawness and his skill-set is still completely unvarnished. This makes him one of the more enjoyable younger players to watch in the NBA.
While Davis and Lillard already often look like seasoned professionals, Drummond plays with a youthful abandon that is endearingly undisciplined. This means that while Davis and Lillard's career progression will likely be pleasantly gradual and steady, Drummond's rise could be shockingly visceral and sudden.
Most people still do not understand how devastating Drummond can perhaps become in the NBA, including probably Drummond himself. There is no way he would have dropped as far on draft night if teams had any inkling of the potential he possesses. Bad memories of Kwame Brown and Drummond's relatively poor freshman year at UConn frightened many teams. But those fears should already be gone. Andre Drummond is not the next Kwame Brown. The question is if he is the next Dwight Howard.
Detroit has started 1-8. Lawrence Frank is limiting Drummond's minutes and reluctant to pair him with Greg Munroe. There is even a chance this potentially dominant frontcourt pairing will rarely see the court together this season.
But Pistons fans should not be discouraged. It seems they may have happened upon something much better than they could have hoped for. Now they just have to be patient.