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Andre Drummond: NBA’s elite center of the future?

I participated in an ESPN 5-on-5 on the center position, and to the surprise of nobody, Andre Drummond came up.

Both Israel Gutierrez and I picked Drummond for “Who’s the most promising center in the NBA?”:

Feldman: Andre Drummond. No current player combines his size and athleticism, and in limited playing time last season, he showed he can use those traits to make a huge impact. Nearly 20, Drummond has plenty of time to smooth his rough edges, especially his free throw shooting, and become elite. Already, he’s a highly efficient finisher, unstoppable rebounder and plus defender.

Gutierrez: Andre Drummond. As a raw 19-year-old, Drummond averaged 2.8 blocks, 1.7 steals, 13.8 points and 13.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. By the time he’s actually playing 36 minutes a game, those numbers could be significantly better. He might want to figure out that tricky free throw thing, though.

Asked a similar, but different-enough question – “Who will be the best center in the NBA in five years?” – two other panelists, Amin Vafa of Hardwood Paroxysm and Jack Winter of Warriors World, two people whose brightness I can vouch for first hand, chose Drummond:

Vafa: Andre Drummond. A back injury robbed us of watching him play a complete season, but in just the short glimpse we got, we saw something special. His PER makes him one of the top-20 most-efficient players in the NBA, and his strength and skill make him one of the most exciting centers to watch (see for yourself). And at just 19, his ceiling is almost limitless.

Winter: Andre Drummond. Davis is still the better player and prospect, but his positional ambiguity offers a chance for some wiggle room; I’ll take it to give Drummond his due. If his skill level can catch up to his body, Detroit’s impressionable man-child will be a franchise player and perennial MVP candidate. Though that seems unlikely at this point, in time Drummond will fulfill his potential as a game-changing terror.

That means four of the five panelists had very good things to say about Drummond, each in their own way. Brendan Jackson of Celtics Hub, I just don’t know what to do with you, man.

For what it’s worth, here’s my answer to the five-years-from-now question:

Feldman: Anthony Davis, who will develop into more of a center than a power forward as he gets bigger and the league shifts smaller. Howard will be 32 — hardly disqualifying, but I just can’t trust a player so big to remain healthy at that age. Davis is slightly more advanced than Drummond right now, and though some of that might be more Lawrence Frank’s fault than Drummond’s, it’s enough to give Davis the edge in a close three-way race with Howard and Drummond.

I’d just like to add emphasis to the word “slightly.”

Davis is slightly more advanced than Drummond right now.


  • Aug 10, 201310:16 am
    by mike


    Davis may be slightly more advanced offensively, but Drummond is way more advanced defensively. Given that I don’t really see Davis dominating the league with his offense, no matter how good it is right now (because he’s just not that talented offensively), I can however see Dre doing so on defense. So simply based on that, I would go with Drummond from that standpoint.

    Its actually not even a debate to me because I see the league going bigger in the future, not smaller, and Davis won’t even be a Center. So he doesn’t really factor in the discussion to me. If you look at the best young Centers in the league, Drummond, Cousins, Bynum, Hibbert, M Gasol, Lopez, etc, they are all 270 lbs at least. Even Monroe who is still going to play Center alot is like 260. I just don’t see Davis ever putting on the weight to bang with those guys consistently in the paint. The true Center is back and you are going to need your Center to be at least 260-270 to be able compete nightly at that position. Even Miami is getting away from the small ball by getting Oden. Davis’ best chance for success is at PF imo

    • Aug 10, 20136:18 pm
      by tarsier


      Let’s just recognize that last season, Davis had a much bigger defensive impact than Drummond, as a result of playing about 50% more minutes, and more often against starters.

      Was Frank holding Drummond back? I believe so, but it is impossible to know how much. 

  • Aug 10, 201311:44 am
    by danny


    Davis is a lot more advanced that drummond on offense and is just a good on defense.  Dre’s body is what seperates them on defense though, he has the ability to guard people like shaq.   Drummond has all the skills to be at the same level Davis is offensively, in my mind.  Davis has the ability to create his own shots, and in the fast break create for others. Dre has quick hands and can create fast break plays, but in the half court he is not there YET. Drummond’s sure mass size allows him a different ways that davis would not strong enough to handle.

    I doubt Davis will be able to handle the bigger guys in the league, so at certain times he will be ran as the 4.  When dre learns to compose himself and up his bball IQ he has the potential to be the best Center in the league.  I feel that he has the ability to be better than Dwight Howard, most people dont think thats much, but it is.  He is a rare bread that is bless with size, mobility, vision, handles, and creativity.  HOpefully he stays motivated and with the pistions for a long time.   

    Now that sheed is his mentor, hopefully dre dives in and learns.  Sheed will teach him every trick in the book and provide him great insight on certain plays or situations.  Sheed be firm with him and Dre sounds like he doesnt have a problem with that.  

    All in all i’m really excited about the season. 

    • Aug 10, 201311:47 am
      by danny


      better than dwight in his prime, this year, i know we will see him dominate.  He will be in a system that is better suited for him with a superstar that can win games for him.  Dwight is a robin, but that is not diss.

    • Aug 10, 20132:59 pm
      by mike


      He’s not better than Drummond on defense. Drummond has the ability to defend the whole paint by himself, defend any big man in the post or perimeter, as well as defend superstar guards on the perimeter. Davis might be able to guard those guys on the perimeter, but he’s not stopping anyone in the post at his size, besides maybe a SF, and he certainly isn’t defending the whole paint by himself at his size. He might have as much talent, instincts, skills etc defensively as Drummond but if his body prevents him from putting it to use in the NBA, then it doesn’t matter, he’s not going to be a great defender like Dre. He can still be a perrennial All-Star PF though. I think Dre can be a perrennial MVP and DPY candidate though. I don’t think Davis will ever reach that level in the NBA because of his size.

      • Aug 10, 20136:31 pm
        by danny


        I agree and said that as well, the only difference is their body.  Davis plays amazing defense and he is able to cover the floor just as much as drummond.  Both playters are 6.11 with huge wing spans.  The difference is that davis body has not fulled out like drummond has.  Dre can bang down log, no biggie.  Davis will be in the correct spot in defense and wreck havoc, but against stronger players he will lose ground.

      • Aug 10, 20137:27 pm
        by oats


        Entering the league, Davis was an inch shorter and 5 pounds heavier than what Kevin Garnett weighed as a rookie. He’s also all of 1 pound lighter than what Marcus Camby weighed as a rookie. Camby was one of the best defensive centers back before this current small ball trend got started and when the centers were still big. He’s also 2 inches shorter and 2 pounds lighter than what Tyson Chandler weighed coming into the league. Yeah, I’m not buying that his size is that big of a limiting factor. His defense in the post isn’t great just yet, but there are examples of guys with similar physical profiles become elite post defenders as they got older. That seems like a reasonably likely outcome for Davis as well.

  • Aug 10, 201312:45 pm
    by Corey


    I am also in the “Davis is not a center” camp. Not big enough. Why not let him become a great PF instead of forcing him to contend with much bigger and stronger players constantly? Drummond will be a better center- whether he becomes a better PLAYER or not.

    • Aug 10, 20136:25 pm
      by tarsier


      Garnett makes a damn good center.

      • Aug 11, 20131:03 pm
        by Corey


        Now- but it took him a decade or more to put on the weight to do it. 

        • Aug 11, 201310:37 pm
          by tarsier


          He still doesn’t have much weight.

  • Aug 10, 20132:58 pm
    by RyanK


    I haven’t seen Davis play enough to understand his game and make a fair comparison…I’m guessing the people who wrote this also haven’t seen him enough either.  

    Drummond has to solve the free throw shooting to be a great player.  Anything less than 50 percent will always make him a liability to have on the floor.  Hopefully he gets to the 60% levels or greater.

    Drummond looked great in some situations, but seems to disappear at times for long stretches.  Consistency is a big issue for him.  If he can bring it every minute he’s on the floor, he’ll be the best center in the league this year.  Last year he was only involved about 1/3 of his time on the floor. 

  • Aug 10, 20133:10 pm
    by Kobina


    Andre Drummond’s beard can only be cut by a diamond edged blade.  He let’s it grow so kids don’t have toil in dangerous mines on his behalf.

    • Aug 10, 20136:32 pm
      by tarsier


      I’ve never understood these comments (that people used to make about Chuck Norris). Are they supposed to be funny? Inspirational? Clever?

      And whichever of those they are supposed to be, does anybody find them so? 

      • Aug 11, 20131:41 am
        by Jon


        lighten up. yeah they’re supposed to make you chuckle

        • Aug 11, 20138:59 am
          by tarsier


          I don’t mind them. I was just wondering what the point was. If people do in fact find them funny, great. I just don’t see it.

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