Just How Good Can Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond Become?

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2013

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

Andre Drummond is by far he most exciting player to play for the Detroit Pistons since Ben Wallace.

In fact, it can be argued that Drummond is the most exciting Pistons player since Grant Hill.

He is an electric scorer around the rim, throwing down bone-chilling dunks with ease on a game-by-game basis.

He has the athleticism and feel for the game to dominate on defense and is already a prolific shot-blocker.

Drummond has the world at his feet with the potential to become truly great.

At this point, he really only has two things that are holding him back from greatness.

One, he does not have a tremendous feel for the offensive game. He lacks proper post moves and footwork, and his shot is low and very blockable.

And two, he has a coach who wants to keep training wheels on the young man despite fantastic numbers.

So just how good can Drummond become?


Writers are divided

Around the Internet, you will see no shortage of opinions on Drummond.

ESPN's Kevin Pelton thinks that Drummond has the makings of the next Shaquille O'Neal.

That same network's resident rookie watcher, David Thorpe, thinks he could be either the next Dwight Howard, O'Neal or a washout.

And one of my favorite Pistons blogs, PistonPowered.com, thinks that at the very least Drummond should be garnering some Sixth Man of the Year votes.

Personally, I have always thought that Drummond reminds me of a bigger version of Shawn Kemp.

Overall, everyone seems to agree that Drummond is special, yet nobody knows exactly how special he will be.


Numbers are staggering

So far this season, Drummond is blowing away projections of how effective he would be.

He is averaging over seven points, seven boards and more than a block-and-a-half per game. Those might sound like pedestrian numbers, but the most important number to remember when it comes to Drummond is 20—as in he is only averaging 20 minutes per game.

So if we bring Drummond's minutes per game up to what is customary for a starting center, right around 36 per game, a different picture emerges.

Per 36 minutes, Drummond is averaging over 13 points, close to 14 rebounds, three blocks and nearly two steals.

If we compare those stats with the league leaders, things get really interesting.

With 36 minutes per game, Drummond would be leading the league in rebounding by a wide margin. Dwight Howard is the current leader with just under 12 per game. He also would be second place in blocks, 10th place in steals and would be fourth in field goal percentage with .592.

Those aren't just All-Star numbers; those are All-NBA numbers.

Obviously there is no guarantees that Drummond's numbers would stay consistent with added minutes, but according to Pelton and SBNation.com's Tom Ziller, those numbers actually tend to go up with added minutes. They call it the Paul Millsap Doctrine.

According to Ziller and Pelton, when a player that was effective in small minutes sees his minutes increase (usually as a result of injury to a starter, I mean why wouldn't you be playing a very effective player other than you already have a stud in the starting lineup, Lawrence Frank?), his production also increases.

Their study of 17 players whose minutes increased saw the points per 40 minutes increase by 1.82, rebounds remain largely the same, and blocked shots and steals slightly decreased.

That means that if Drummond averaged 40 minutes per game, he would be notching close to 17 points per game, right around 15 rebounds, about three blocks and just over a steal-and-a-half.


Where Drummond could rank

I think it is unreasonable to ask Drummond to average 40 minutes per game or more. 36 minutes per game really should be his ceiling. Part of that is realistic expectations and part of that is my own desire to see Drummond not get hurt.

If we take the Millsap Doctrine into account, let's assume that Drummond averages about 15 points and right around 14 rebounds and three blocks per game.

Over the last 20 years, only five players have averaged 14 rebounds per game or more: Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo and Dennis Rodman.

Of those, only Howard and Love averaged in any one season more than 14 points per game.

So basically, we are looking at a player who could be really really special. Not only is Drummond capable of those kinds of numbers, but he also is so much more exciting of a player to watch than those other players.

Yes folks, I think we are watching a player who could become truly special.


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