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(Finally) Making the Dwight Howard-Andre Drummond comparison

I’ve always considered myself a crusader against making outlandish comparisons for young players to established stars, setting the bar too high before they’ve even had a chance to develop. Last season, because of his size and amazing athleticism, Andre Drummond drew frequent Dwight Howard comparisons and I mostly resisted because, come on … it’s Dwight freaking Howard, a top five player in the league who has already had a couple of near-MVP-worthy seasons and led a team featuring himself and a bunch of shooting guards to the NBA Finals.

Well, Drummond now has a full year under his belt and, as we all know, had monster production on a per-minute basis. This offseason, he’s reportedly “attacked” the team’s offseason conditioning program, working on his biggest non-free throw shooting weakness, his conditioning. So with Drummond putting up insane per-minute numbers, with another year of experience, with more talent around him and, hopefully, improved conditioning that allows him to stay on the court for extended minutes, it’s time to call this what it is. There’s at least a decent chance that after this season is over, Drummond is better after two seasons in the league than Howard was at this point in his career. I wrote about the exciting potential of a Monroe-Drummond frontcourt in today’s Detroit Free Press column:

Last month, I discussed how Greg Monroe’s offensive progression and skill set is remarkably similar to Gasol’s. And in Drummond, the Pistons have their Howard. In fact, as preposterous as it would’ve sounded when eight teams were passing on Drummond because of the all-too-famous and mysterious “red flags” he had coming out of college, there is a sound case that Drummond actually is better than Howard was at this point in their careers.

I was hesitant to say that while Drummond was putting together stretches of great play during his rookie season, but the results are undeniable. Howard made incremental improvements from his first year to his second year. They were noticeable but not huge leaps statistically, simply because he handled a large workload as a rookie.

Drummond doesn’t have to prove he can fill up a stat sheet, he has to figure out how to stay on the court. If he can do that, it’s not out of the question to envision him playing at an All-Star level as soon as this season, even as he works to refine the more fundamental elements of his game.

24 Comments

  • Jul 26, 20133:09 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    Welcome to the darkside Patrick

    • Jul 26, 20133:15 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Haha … that last hurdle — conditioning — is still a big one. Dwight is a freak of nature in that regard. Drummond wasn’t in good shape in college or as a rookie and it cost him both years. I’m hoping the hype about his conditioning this offseason is real (unlike all of those infamous “Charlie V is totally into kickboxing!” stories of the last few years).

      • Jul 26, 20133:21 pm
        by I HATE FRANK

        Reply

        I agree …. Drummond got too big last year…around 300, I think early at Uconn he was about 265-270 …blowned towards the end of the year… he need to stay in that 270-280 range… even though when look at him I still find that hard to believe

      • Jul 26, 20133:44 pm
        by Jack56

        Reply

        Where have you been lately? Have not seen many posts from you.

        • Jul 26, 20138:54 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          I’m still lurking … day job prevents me from writing much these days.

          • Jul 26, 201310:04 pm
            by Jack56

            What do you do when you’re not writing about NBA?

  • Jul 26, 20134:38 pm
    by mike

    Reply

    I think he could’ve played 30 mpg last year and been fine. They just needed to balance his minutes better. Frank was an idiot in that regard. He would play him 5 min one half, and then 12-15 straight the next. You can’t play a 300lb player that many straight min without expecting him to wear down and be exhausted by the end. If they would’ve used like a normal coach would, and just started him for 8-9 min in the 1st/3rd qtrs, then rested him until the 6 min mark of 2nd/4th qtrs, he could’ve gotten his 30 min while not overdoing it, playing four 6-9 minute spurts, and getting rest in between.

    Also, I think because he plays with such freakish energy and athleticism for stretches, people expect him to be able to play at that level on both ends for every minute he’s out there. Ben Wallace was able to do it, but he was also only 6-9, 245 lbs. We can’t expect that type of high energy Big Ben game from a 7 ft, 300lb player  for a whole game. He can do it in spurts, but when he “slows down” its not because he’s tired or in poor condition, he’s just back to the normal playing speed of a 7 ft 300lb player.

    When you have bigs of this size, its all up to your guards to keep them from wearing out. If you have a PG like Knight who’s running at a rabbit speed every time, he’s going to wear down his own bigs in the process. The PG needs to be aware that he’s playing with bigs who need to play at slower pace at times, in order to keep them fresh the whole game. That’s why Chauncey is such a big asset, because he’s a master at controlling pace, and knowing how to play at a pace that is comfortable for his bigs. The other team is always going to try and up the tempo on us, in an effort to wear down our bigs. If our PG tries to get in a rat race with the opposing PG, it only compounds the problem for us. When the other team tries to force tempo to wear out our bigs, its on our PG to reel it back in and keep our bigs fresh for the stretch run.

  • Jul 26, 20134:48 pm
    by JB

    Reply

    I wonder how the rebounding numbers will fare this year.
    Like Howard in Orlando, Drummond was able to play many of his minutes last year with sub-par rebounders. Moving to the starting role with Monroe and Smith, both of whom rebound very well, makes me think that Dre’s rebounds/36 min will decrease a bit with the cannibalization of rebounds among those 3.

    Either way, I’m really looking forward to crushing teams on the glass this year. 

  • Jul 26, 20135:00 pm
    by Caligula

    Reply

    Patrick let me know what you tlink about this plan over next 3 to 4 years.

    first, they go into to free agency next year after a 7 seed birth this year and get Paul george for 17 mill a year. with Rodney, charlie, slva, and Greg contracts coming of the books we will have over 20 mill In cap space,

    we can offer Paul more money than the pacers can afford to pay him, a chance to play with a team with young players with allstar potential, and equal shot at a ring as the pacers not many teams with money next year can offer all that to him.

    Then since we own Greg bird rights we can then sign him to a 5 year 90 mill or what ever contract they come up with. now that we have our core 5 locked up we bring kcp of the bench in a harden role so now we have a great starting 5 and a solid bench with some scoring punch with chauncy, kcp, and datome now were big fast and verstile and were not so bad with the cap it kills us.

    starting five would look like bk7 pg Paul George SG josh smith sf Greg PF dre C 
    bench chauncy kcp damonte tony Mitchell 

    The next year Chauncey should retire and will and Jonas contracts come off the books we use that to bring back knight and datome by now we should be on of the top teams in the east 
     
    next year give dre his max contract 

    and  finally josh and kcp contracts are up at the same time let smith walk and re-sign kcp you start him 
    what do u think?

    • Jul 26, 20138:58 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Pacers can offer George more than any team, even with their cap situation. Also, he’s a restricted free agent and there’s a zero percent chance Indiana wouldn’t match any offer sheet he signs.

       

  • Jul 26, 20135:10 pm
    by Sean Corp

    Reply

    Supplemental reading to Patrick’s excellent article. I jumped on this comparison early and covered how historically great Drummond’s first half was: http://www.detroitbadboys.com/2013/1/25/3915248/andre-drummonds-historic-first-half.

    Obviously, Drummond got injured and it disrupted his pace but he was on pace for the most Win Shares of any teenage player . But  I will note that he finished the season with 4.5 total win shares in only 1,200 minutes.

    Only five players drafted as teenagers have finished with more Win Shares — Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James — and none played less than 2,000 minutes.

    • Jul 26, 20138:59 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Thanks Sean. I remember reading that post last season, now that you mention it. Great stuff as always.

  • Jul 26, 20135:33 pm
    by mike

    Reply

    To touch on the Gasol/Howard comparison, I can definitely see that, but Monroe will have become a consistent jumpshooter. Watching him shoot free throws last night, it dawned on me, why doesn’t he take his mid-range shots from the free throw line? He’s a very good free throw shooter for a big man. Perhaps he should be shooting that 12-15 footer in a straight ahead shot right from the FT line, instead of only trying that angled elbow jumper from the sides. Something I think the coaching staff should explore. I don’t see why he can’t make an open set shot from the free throw line consistently in game, if he can do it consistently on foul shots. At the least, he should be more efficient at it than the elbow shots.

  • Jul 26, 20139:06 pm
    by Tempts4ever

    Reply

    Wilt is the only one I compare him to. I know Wilt was a scoring machine and super powerful but he just reminds me of, to “me”, the greatest center of all time, Chamberlain.

  • Jul 26, 20139:39 pm
    by Peter

    Reply

    Sorry if I’m asking about something that’s widely known, but what were those “red flags?” Does anyone know?

    • Jul 26, 201310:03 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      The general gist of them was that he didn’t work particularly hard at getting better at UConn, he relied solely on his athleticism with no fundamentals, his conditioning was bad and he was immature.

      As we saw last year, there was a bit of merit to both the conditioning questions and the lack of fundamentals, but obviously, the concerns that teams had were overblown.

  • Jul 26, 201310:27 pm
    by Tempts4ever

    Reply

    I just have a feeling something fantastic is going to happen this season. We have a formidable front line that hasn’t been seen in years. I know many have seen the following videos on Moose and Dre but they look even better now that we’ve gotten J-Smooth and T Mitchell with GiGi and Kravtsov holding it down as well:

     Josh Smith-My Time-2012

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fee_RvTwkGQ

      Spotlight: Greg Monroe

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIasEv3rN0k

    Andre  Drummond – The Beginning  

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scdiy3LnePg 

    Tony Mitchell NBA Draft 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK9WA8XfIjo    

    Gigi Datome Mix – 2013 – Welcome to Detroit Pistons

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBeAKDS8uwo       
    Vyacheslav Kravtsov Highlight mix

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2Y7hrAo3K4

    (1:01-1:06 – Now that’s some Deeetroit Basketball right there!!!) 

     
      

  • Jul 26, 201311:12 pm
    by Peter

    Reply

    Thanks for answering, Patrick.  That UConn team was a ship without sails, but I guess it turned out well for the Pistons and Andre. 

  • Jul 26, 201311:40 pm
    by David

    Reply

    I think Drummond will be fine this year, I know it was summer league, but he looked a little more quicker on his feet, he had a lot of energy in the games that I saw. I think one other thing that may help is simply having Josh Smith b/c you can at times move Monroe to the 5 if need be to give Drummond some rest

  • Jul 27, 201312:50 am
    by Max

    Reply

    Forget Dwight Howard.   Drummond has drawn outlandish comparisons to much better players like Moses Malone (I think Dan and not Patrick during summer league) and Shaq.  

    • Jul 27, 201312:05 pm
      by G

      Reply

      I’d like to see some development on the offensive end. I think he already has the tools to be a better defender than Shaq, but he just isn’t that similar of a player offensively.

      • Jul 27, 20132:41 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        I don’t think anyone in the whole league looks as naturally adept at taps as Drummond.  

  • Jul 28, 20137:07 pm
    by anacaniwelk

    Reply

    I don’t think Drummond’s conditioning will be that big of a deal. In crunch time I would think Monroe with be at center and Smith at power forward.  Until Drummond improves at the line I don’t think Cheeks will be able to get away with playing Drummond 36 minutes per.

    • Jul 29, 201311:07 am
      by Huddy

      Reply

      I can see Cheeks doing a lot of subbing in the end of games to have Drummond on D and back out on O, much like Memphis does with Tony Allen. 

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