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Andre Drummond, no longer East’s best center, still deserves All-Star selection

When I named Andre Drummond the best center in the Eastern Conference in early December, I noted multiple other contenders for the title were close enough to catch Drummond by the All-Star break. I believe two of them, Roy Hibbert and Joakim Noah, have.

But I still believe Drummond should be an All-Star.

At ProBasketballTalk, I wrote about what criteria I’d use for choosing All-Stars:

Here’s the standard I use:

Who’s the best player right now?

That’s intentionally vague, but here’s the thought exercise I use to compare players. Imagine two teams full of average players for their positions – an average starting point guard, an average shooting guard, an average sixth man, etc. These teams are exactly equal. Now, replace one starter on each of the average teams with the players you’re comparing. Whose team wins? That’s the better player.

You won’t find detailed analysis of which players have had the best seasons so far, because that’s explicitly not how I believe All-Stars should be selected. But if you click through, you will find my picks – including Drummond, who qualified with room to spare.

18 Comments

  • Jan 22, 20142:40 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting A Strong Finish)

    Reply

    Noah has had a strong January…and coaches like him…Hibbert is the defensive center piece for the best defensive team in the east…
    It’ll be a shame if Dr doesn’t make it…but I can already see it coming

  • Jan 22, 20142:41 pm
    by Brandon Knight

    Reply

    Roy Hibbery??? Oh god. He is not better than Drummond

    • Jan 22, 20143:03 pm
      by Huddy

      Reply

      Hibbert is currently the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year…you really think he is a crazy All Star Selection?  His rebounding numbers individually look low, but he is the best rebounder on one of the best rebounding teams in the league.  He has a go to hook in the post and hits FTs at 75%…essentially he is the best defensive center in the game and actually has an offensive game.  This year he is better,
       
      Area’s where Drummond is worse will probably improve, but he currently has defensive awareness issues, no offensive game outside of lobs/put backs, and his 30% of his FTs.  Its not even really worth much of a debate.

      • Jan 22, 20146:15 pm
        by jamesjones_det

        Reply

        Most commenter on this will just dismiss you because Drummond is so good he can by himself lead this team to the promise land and they wouldn’t trade him for wade, LBJ and Bosh if given the chance because NBA2K says his upside will make him better than Wilt Chamberlain and Jordan someday.
         
        Anyway I agree with you, at this point Hibbert is a better more well rounded player than Dre is at this point in his career.

  • Jan 22, 20142:45 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting A Strong Finish)

    Reply

    His defensive awareness is better than Drummond and he plays for a team were everyone praises him but just always being in the right spot at the right time…only.way Drummond makes it is if Bosh doesn’t make it

    • Jan 22, 20143:07 pm
      by Huddy

      Reply

      I don’t think Bosh is a consistent enough big factor for Miami to deserve it, but the popularity contest aspect of the All Star game could garner him enough extra boost to make it.  The biggest thing working in Drummond’s favor is the injury to Horford. 

      • Jan 22, 20143:58 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        I’d put Bosh in over Drummond. He’s scoring 16.3 points a game and is a 37% 3 point shooter. I mean, he’s a jump shooting big man with a .601 true shooting percentage. That’s really freaking good. He allows them to stretch the floor without going extremely small, and that is absolutely a key to their team playing at it’s best. I know he’s been a bad rebounder, but Miami doesn’t really care about winning the rebounding battle anyways. I also think he’s a much smarter defender right now than Drummond, and that’s what gives him an edge for me.
         
        I actually think I’d knock Drummond out. I’d put Bosh in his spot, and I’d keep both Millsap and Afflalo as the wild cards. Millsap has kept Atlanta afloat even after losing Horford, and I really don’t think Drummond would have been capable of doing that in his place. I know that Drummond is an efficient scorer and rebounding monster, but his defense needs a lot of work and his offensive game is far more limited than either Bosh or Millsap. Then there’s the abomination that is Drummond at the line. It’s a really tough cut to make because those three are really close, but I’d cut Drummond.

        • Jan 22, 20145:20 pm
          by Huddy

          Reply

          Those are good points.  Personally I just have a hard time picking a scorer that can be as non existent in games as bosh can.  That might be mostly because of playing with Lebron, but his shooting percentage is also partially attributed to playing with other talented players that keep him open and move the ball very well.  Wade being out is helping Boshs case currently though.

          • Jan 22, 20146:04 pm
            by oats

            I should probably point out that Bosh was a 20 and 10 guy in Toronto. In fact, he did that with a .592 true shooting percentage, although he hadn’t really extended his range out to the 3 point line yet. He also shot 46% on shots from 16′ to the 3 point line that year, and he’s shooting 46% this year in the same range. I’d say that supports the idea that his shooting percentage is not just dependent on his teammates. So, do you really believe he got that much worse, or is it that he’s just settled into a lesser role in order to win? I personally think it’s the latter. If the goal of All Star game selection is to select the best stars for the game and not just who is having a better season, which was Dan’s primary argument in his article, then Bosh should definitely be in. I didn’t bring that up because I’d put him in even without that, but since you are bringing up what kind of impact his team has on him as a player I think I need to make that point.

          • Jan 22, 20146:58 pm
            by Huddy

            I think Bosh made a decision to be a 3rd wheel on a team to win championships and for personal accolades I don’t think we need to take into account what he did 4 years ago for a different team.  His output has regressed even since being on the heat.  Hes a bad rebounder even though hes the most talented big on his team and even though he used to average 10 a game…do we factor that in?  Is his shooting percentage the only reason he is an All Star?  Too often he puts up 7-8 points a game and even if thats because hes on a good team, I don’t think he is an all star because his play 4 years ago proves he could do more.  A certain amount of the all star selection has to be based on the season.  Were questioning if he should be on the 2014 All Star team, not the 2011-2015 team.  Afflalo has proved every year except this year that he is a pretty good 3 and D guy, but his performance this year gets him a nod. 
             
            I don’t think Bosh is a ridiculous choice, but I think I would prefer to include some aspect of impact on their team or this years play over projections of what a guy could be doing if he hadn’t made a personal decision to accept a lesser role (and I think the rebounding is a pretty big factor considering his position, not a stellar defender or rebounder.)

          • Jan 22, 20148:25 pm
            by oats

            All of that is why I started by talking about him this year. He’s one of the best floor stretching big men in the league and a good defensive player. Miami is just a better team on both sides of the ball with him on the court. Their offensive rating is 8.6 points better with him on the court and their defensive rating 1.3 points better. Miami’s Net Rating (Offensive Rating – Defensive Rating) is +10.5 with Bosh on the court and +.6 with him off, giving him a net of +9.9. James leads the Heat in that stat with a net of +13.9, but Bosh is squarely in second place. Chalmers is actually third with +8.4 and Wade is fourth at +8.3. He’s actually the team leader in just traditional +/- at +6.1 per game. Wade is second at +4.8 and James is third at +4.5. I think he clearly is having a positive impact on the team.
             
            I only brought up his play in Toronto since you were questioning how much of what he does is owed to his playing on a good team. My answer is that his counting stats took a back seat and his efficiency stats remained more or less constant since joining the Heat, so I’d say that playing on the Heat isn’t exactly doing him any favors statistically.
             
            I also think that a lot of his rebounding dip is schematic based. Miami’s pulled him away from the hoop far more than Toronto ever did because they prioritize floor spacing over offensive rebounding. That’s resulted in him getting roughly one fewer offensive rebound a game since getting to Miami, and I don’t think that’s on him. Toronto also favored a pretty standard defensive scheme. Miami has him aggressively fronting his man to deny the pass, which gets him out of position. They also very aggressively switch on defense, a tactic designed to create opportunities for James and Wade to spend a lot of time roaming around creating havoc instead of just defending their man. The end result is that he is often not in a position to get rebounds because Miami would rather cause turnovers than get rebounds. I think you absolutely have to keep in mind the fact that Miami just doesn’t care about rebounding when you look at what Bosh is doing. Lastly, his minutes are down a lot this year. He’s scoring 18.9 points per 36 minutes, and he’s actually pulling in a slightly more respectable 7.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. That is definitely still bad, but somewhat better than his 6.7 rebounds a game would suggest. I honestly believe that if Miami ran a more traditional system and gave him more minutes that he’d be closer to a 10 rebound a game player.

          • Jan 23, 201411:11 am
            by Huddy

            The change in rating with him on the floor is impressive.  The only question I would have about that is if the teams lack of depth skews that at all (just asking not assuming either direction).  It seems like a team so dependent on its starters might boost that stat for individuals, but there is a pretty considerable drop off in talent from starting line up to reserves on many or most NBA teams anyway so maybe not.
             
            My biggest problem is the last argument when making an all star selection.  When you get into the effect of scheme on production I think it becomes too much of an over analysis for a yearly award like this.  You make a good argument for Bosh from that standpoint, but I just don’t know how fair it is to take that into account.  Smith or Monroe could very well be All Star considerations in a different scheme or line up or at their proper positions, but as it is in 2014 they are not.  Bosh would score more and rebound more on another team (as with your Toronto years evidence) but hypotheticals are a slippery slope.  Drummond might score more on a more spread team with a better PG, Afflalo might score less (and has more often than not) on a more talented team.
             
            That kind of stuff is where it becomes a personal decision as Dan points out though.  I think since your choice is based on an in depth analysis it is perfectly valid for your to vote that way.  I would tend to doubt Bosh is garnering votes from a large number of people based on analysis of the teams O and D ratings with him and the effect of their scheme on his numbers, but there are certainly worse players that could benefit from the popularity of their team than him.

          • Jan 23, 20146:01 pm
            by oats

            That’s fair enough. I normally don’t put as much weight on how they fit in a scheme. I think the Heat are a much better team with Bosh than without him, and I think the difference is too big too ignore. LeBron is their most important player and Wade is their second best player, but Bosh is their second most irreplaceable player. Maybe that says more about their specific personnel pieces, but Bosh is harder for them to replace and that should be taken into account. I also find it hard to penalize him too much for not rebounding when the Heat have clearly decided they don’t mind being the worst rebounding team in the league. So I think him being a stretch 5 that also plays solid defense is enough to get him in.
             
            I feel like all 3 of those guys are really close. Bosh is the best offensive player, the best defender, and the worst rebounder of the group. As I see it, being the best two player in the group trumps his bad rebounding, especially since his poor rebounding is largely due to him playing the way his team wants him to play. I do get why someone would disagree though. Drummond has been really good, and so has Millsap. Heck, I generally hate big men that don’t rebound. If Bosh put up identical stats on any other team then I wouldn’t put him in, because no other team has decided they will just lose every single rebounding battle. If it wasn’t so effective for the Heat I still wouldn’t give him a pass, but being a bad rebounding team is clearly not hurting them any. I get not wanting to take team strategy into account, and if you don’t then Bosh should probably not make the cut.

  • Jan 22, 20143:08 pm
    by pistonspoland

    Reply

     Drummond is better than Hibbert?? O! M! G! I think you guys just look at boxscores, there is no other explanation. Andre is just a athletic kid with great hands and instincts. Thats it. He is raw offensively and he is just terrible defensively. Hibbert is many levels higher than Drummond on almost everything related to basketball! 

  • Jan 22, 20144:33 pm
    by Javell

    Reply

    This guy! Saying noah and hibbert better than drummond? Thats laughable 

    • Jan 22, 20144:54 pm
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      Yeah, to win a game right now, I’d take either of those guys over Drummond. i’d rather have Drummond for his potential, but not for his ability today.

  • Jan 23, 20141:42 am
    by MrHappyMushroom

    Reply

    In terms of day-in, day-out actual production, I wouldn’t call Drummond a Top 10 NBA center today.  I could even argue he’d have trouble breaking the top 15.
     
    He’s a great rebounder.  Definitely.  High shooting percentage, but because of the limits to his game, he’s not much of a scorer.  And as long as he keeps shooting 40% or lower from the line, the Pistons really can’t start featuring him in the offense.  Hack-a-Howard is widely considered, at best, a wash of a strategy.  Howard shoots 20 percentage points higher from the line.
     
    Defense…Dre has great moments.  He has all the tools to be a defensive start someday.  He’s currently often outmuscled, undisciplined, and no more than a net average defender. 
     
    This isn’t bagging on Andre Drummond.  He has a genuine shot at being a superstar. But he’s far away from that status now.  Honestly, I’d prefer he not begin a string of all-star nods at a time when he’s a fairly flawed player.  How to you tell a 22 year old three time all-star that he needs to work his ass off to get better?

    • Jan 23, 20146:50 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      I think I’d have Cousins, Howard, Horford, Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Noah, Pau Gasol, and Duncan as clearly ahead of Drummond. It’s close, but I think I also slip in Bosh and Jordan. That’s it, I have Drummond in the 11th slot. As much as some people focus on how limited he is offensively, Drummond is still the 12th leading scorer among centers. He does that while being really efficient. He’s also tied for the league lead in rebounding percentage and third in rebounds per game. Throw in average defense and he’s very clearly in the top 15 at least. You could argue he belongs ahead of a couple of the guys I mentioned, or you could argue that Bosh and/or Duncan are PFs.
       
      Notice how only 3 of those guys play in the East and are healthy, and one of those 3 is pretty questionable on if he’s actually better than Drummond. Yeah, that’s why he’s in the conversation for the All Star game. I think that two 2 of the Bosh, Millsap, and Drummond group will make the All Star game. I would vote for Bosh and Millsap, but it’s darn close.
      As for telling a 22 year old with 3 All Star games under his belt that he needs to work his ass of to get better, that’s really easy. The real star players in the league all work really hard. Tell him to look at the work ethic of his teammates in those All Star games. Those guys all push themselves really hard because they don’t just want to be an All Star, they want to win against the best competition in the world. They might be walking through the motions a bit during All Star weekend, but it’s not hard for him to see the kind of work those guys put in during the rest of the year. I mean, he’s part of the pool of potential Olympic players where he can see the work they do up close and personal.

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