David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
For Andre Drummond, the first two months of this season have been indicative of just how good he already is at age 20, but also how far he can grow as a player.
Just last season, he was coming off the bench behind Jason Maxiell and playing just over 20 minutes per game. His skill set was raw, and there were questions of conditioning and whether he could duplicate his early success as a full-time starter.
This season, Drummond is playing over 32 minutes per game, averaging 12.8 points and 12.3 rebounds and adding in more than one block and one steal. He's also shooting 61 percent from the field, among the top players in the league.
But on the flip side, he is still unable to make free throws, actually shooting worse than the 37.1 percent he made as a rookie. He also has shown very little offensive ability away from the basket, attempting just 33 of his 303 field goals from five feet or farther from the basket.
Perhaps the most telling game of the season for Drummond was the Dec. 21 matchup with the Houston Rockets. He finished with nine points, six boards, four blocks (one that he caught out of mid-air) and two steals—the kind of stats he is capable of posting on any given night.
But while his performance was important, it was the play of his counterpart, Dwight Howard, that was most revealing. The 10th-year big man, to whom Drummond is often compared, lit up the second-year player to the tune of 35 points, 19 rebounds and five assists. Some of that came against Monroe, but Howard absolutely had his way with Drummond the entire night.
Drummond has a long way to go to get to the level where Howard is now, but he has all the physical tools to get there. It's up to him and the coaching staff to ensure that he is constantly developing his game.
"I learned a lot and gained a whole new respect for his game," Drummond told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press of the matchup. "I’m just going to continue to learn and try to get better.”
Drummond has been one of the best players on the team this season and is right where he should be in terms of development. For the Pistons, they must ensure he continues to improve at such a fast rate.
*Jakub Rudnik covers the Detroit Pistons for B/R. Follow him on Twitter.