Drummond would be the exception if the hulking 20-year-old could just get some well-deserved press coverage thrown his way.
If the term "project pick" was in the dictionary, it might have Drummond's mug right below it. Between his menacing frame (6'10", 270 pounds), Marvel Comic-like athleticism (33.5" vertical, per Draft Express) and mediocre college stats (10.0 points, 7.6 rebounds), he was the definition of a high-risk, high-reward prospect.
The Pistons weighed the risks, fantasized about the potential rewards and snagged the big man with the No. 9 pick in 2012.
It's been all reward ever since.
"We're talking a scary amount of appeal," Bleacher Report's Stephen Babb wrote of Drummond's upside. "This guy could be the game's next dominant center, the likes of which we haven't seen since Shaquille O'Neal."
That sounds hyperbolic. One glance at the stat sheet says it's anything but:
He attacks the offensive glass like a man possessed.
He leads the league in offensive rebounds (426). A bigger gap exists between him and the second player on the list (Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, 322) than the one separating Jordan from the 10th-best offensive rebounder (Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, 224).
That type of "glasswork" (unseen at the NBA level since 1997-98) doesn't happen by mistake. There's a selfishness at its source, but it's a selfishness that absolutely helps his team on the scoreboard.
That's what makes this story as remarkable as it is.
Drummond, incredibly raw at the offensive end, is still finding his way to 13.4 points a night. He poured in 26 of them (five shy of his season high) during Detroit's 106-98 loss to the Chicago Bulls Friday night. Naturally, his monster stat sheet also included 12 offensive boards among his 26 rebounds that tied his career high.
"The guy just goes and battles for you every night," Pistons interim coach John Loyer said, via David Goricki of The Detroit News.
With an intangible supercharged motor and the tangible physical tools he's been given, Drummond isn't going to lose many of those battles. As his game develops with experience, those losses will come even fewer and further between.
Even without that added wisdom, though, he's doing just fine for himself. Bananas production on the boards aside, the young man is not a rebounding specialist.
In fact, it's his across-the-board work that's put him in even more exclusive historical company. Drummond is just the second player in league history to average at least 13 points, 13 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals in either his rookie or sophomore season (h/t B/R's Jared Dubin). The other name on that list? Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo.
Impressive, right? It gets better.
Over 38 percent of his made field goals this season have been dunks (178 of 465). Another 37 percent of them have been layups (175). His offensive game is only to going to grow from here, yet it's already giving opposing defenses fits.
"Describe Andre? He’s a good guy, loves basketball, wants to get better," Loyer said, per Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News. "Just scratched the surface and the surface is pretty good."
Drummond tantalized as a rookie. Although the Pistons handled him with kid gloves (20.7 minutes a night), he still flashed enough ability to make more than a few jaws drop (13.8 points and 13.2 rebounds per 36 minutes, via Basketball-Reference.com).
Those gloves are off now, and those jaws are still stuck to the floor.
He's logged 32.4 minutes per game this season and somehow managed to raise the bar. Those crazy per-36-minute marks are even crazier this time around (14.9 points and 14.6 rebounds).
All this from a player who's yet to take his first legal sip of an adult beverage.
"He’s not even 21 yet," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said, via Aggrey Sam of Comcast SportsNet. "He’s just one of those guys that you see a bright future for him."
Now, the Pistons need to turn their putrid present into something just as bright.
Detroit (29-51) will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Its summer schedule promises to be a busy one. Besides finding a new general manager, the Pistons will have to decide if Loyer is the long-term answer as a coach (or find his replacement) and see what kind of offer sheets are presented to restricted-free-agent-to-be Greg Monroe.
With a decent amount of cap space (the Pistons have $35.1 million on the books for next season, $42.1 million including contract options, via ShamSports.com) and a potentially high draft pick (the Pistons owe the Charlotte Bobcats a top-eight protected pick), the team should have the tools to build up its talent base.
The good news is that the hard part of that process might already be out of the way. This is a superstars league, and the Pistons appear to have found theirs.
Andre Drummond is the best player in basketball that no one is talking about. That won't be the case much longer.
Assuming, of course, his 26-26 performance didn't already let the cat out of the bag.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
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