When the Pistons drafted Andre Drummond, I was skeptical and with good reason. In spite of being one of the most athletic big men in the entire NCAA, he had avery mediocre freshman season, which raised questions for statheads and traditional scouts alike.
At the conclusion of the preseason, I was optimistic about Andre Drummond and again, with good reason. Dre had a brilliant season, at times looking and producing like the most dominant player on the floor.
And after 30 games, Andre Drummond looks like the real deal, putting up per minute numbers that in some key areas that outshine Dwight Howard’s rookie season. Yep, so far, he’s been that good.
However, Detroit remains committed to its preseason plan for Drummond: bring the kid along slowly. At one point, that plan made a lot of sense. Drummond wasn’t great as a freshman. He’s young. He’s still growing into his body. For the first time in his life, he’ll be playing against men his own size. Those are all good reasons to take the long view and develop Drummond slowly.
But at every opportunity, Drummond has demonstrated that none of these concerns are justified. His performance up to this point indicates that he’s more than ready. In fact, in spite of being a little rough around certain edges, he has been Detroit’s most impactful player, and it’s not all that close.
Drummond’s play demands that the Pistons reevaluate their plans.Here’s a look at the Wins Produced numbers through 30 games, while demonstrates just how good Andre Drummond has been.
Aside: The Pistons’ point differential, and thus total Wins Produced, indicate that the Pistons have outperformed their record. The Pistons have produced 13 total wins, and would be projected to win approximately 35 wins over an 82 game season – which is right in line with what the numbers projected at the beginning of the season.
On a per minute basis according to Wins Produced, Andre Drummond is the most productive player the Pistons employ. Looking more closely at the box score statistics reveals that Dre has been fantastic on the glass, outstanding at blocking shots and steals, and respectable at making the shots he’s taken.
Admittedly, he hasn’t been great at some things the box score doesn’t quite reflect. Specifically, he frequently misses defensive rotations that lead to easy buckets, and that has drawn Frank’s ire. He’s also so terrible at free throw shooting that the Pistons haven’t played him in crunch time when leading; at 40%, he hasn’t even broken even.
However, it seems that his strengths – rebounding, blocks, and steals – are all critical to winning, especially from your Center. And Andre is nearly doubling the NBA average in two of those three categories.
Conceding that Dre has weak spots in his very young NBA game, it would still seem that more minutes would lead to more wins, even if his crunch-time minutes are limited.
Here’s a look at what the Pistons might look like with one simple tweak: swapping the roles of Jason Maxiell and Andre Drummond.
Admittedly, this is an estimate. Diminishing returns may have some impact on Drummond’s performance, for example, and the sample size is still small enough to make this tentative. Furthermore, this table above doesn’t take into account one very important consideration: Greg Monroe started the season miserably, but he is righting the ship. If he continues to play like he has for the previous two seasons, the Pistons could be even better.
All that said, playing Andre Drummond in Jason Maxiell’s could make the Pistons as much as 7 wins better over the course of an 82 game season, and that is a dramatic improvement.
If the goal is to win, this is a no-brainer. Free Drummond. If the goal is to develop young players, this is a no-brainer. Free Drummond. And if the goal is to do both, it’s still a no-brainer. Free Drummond.