There weren’t many bigger surprises in the NBA last season than the immediate production of Andre Drummond for the Pistons. So it makes sense that he made one of the biggest jumps in the #NBArank countdown this season, coming in at No. 54 — 223 spots higher than his debut ranking last season.
That jump is third-largest in the NBA behind Chicago Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler and Indiana Pacers’ forward Lance Stephenson. Both of those players surprisingly solid play were big reasons for their team’s success last season.
Whether or not those two players can sustain that level of improvement this season is murky, but even if they plateau for a season, the Pacers and Bulls are still in great position. Drummond doesn’t quite have that luxury.
I don’t want to say the Pistons are going to rely on Drummond to be successful — they’re too talented on paper now to need to rely on a 20 year old — but he’s going to need to keep improving for the team to be successful.
Right now, he’s more specialist than he is complete player. If Drummond can rebound and defend at a slightly better level than he did last season while making, say, 55 percent of his free throws, that’s a huge upgrade. Even if his post game is limited to “dunk” and “dunk harder” he’s still going to be of value if he can make teams pay for fouling him by converting at the line.
Drummond’s ranking also presents another interesting thought. He’s ranked in a cluster of big men, trailing Warriors’ David Lee, Bobcats Al Jefferson and T’wolves Nikola Pekovic. Is he a better overall basketball player than those guys right now? No, but is he going to be more valuable to his team’s success this season? Probably, though the Bobcats minor successes will probably be credited to Jefferson.
Really, for Drummond to make the kind of impact he did last season in such inconsistent playing time is pretty remarkable. There are questions as to whether or not those flashes are sustainable if he’s on the court for 30 minutes a night.
But if he proves to be the kind of player he showed in stretches last season in a full-time capacity this season, he’ll make another big move up these rankings next season.
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