The Los Angeles Lakers believed they received a boost when the team signed Andre Drummond in March after the big man received a buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not everyone is buying the idea that Drummond is an upgrade for the Lakers at center. Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes recently compiled a list of the “weakest link” for every (likely) playoff team’s starting lineup, and Drummond came in at No. 5 in the rankings.
Hughes’ argument focuses on Drummond’s subpar shooting percentage for a center and questioning the importance of rebounding in the modern NBA. Drummond is putting up a double-double since arriving in Los Angeles averaging 11.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and .9 blocks while shooting 50% from the field in his 10 starts with the Lakers.
“The Lakers won a title by playing big last season, so it’s hard to fault them for gifting large human Andre Drummond the starting center job after signing him in late March,” Hughes explained. “But guess what? We’re going to fault them anyway. A lot. Drummond’s 46.3 field goal percentage is almost incomprehensibly inefficient for someone whose shot range is “dunk.” Just for fun, note that Stephen Curry nearly shoots as accurately on tightly contested threes (defender 0-2 feet away) as Drummond does on two-point shots overall this season. Cleaning the Glass has Drummond in the sixth percentile in effective field goal percentage for his position. Sixth percentile!”
Drummond Should Benefit From a Healthy LeBron
The Lakers clearly do not see it the same way as Drummond was named the starting center shortly after his arrival in L.A. and is averaging 25.7 minutes per game. To Drummond’s credit, it is hard to imagine the big man not benefiting from playing with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis once they are healthy. Hughes is not giving Drummond the benefit of the doubt adding that his minutes should be given to Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell and Markieff Morris come playoff time.
“Actually, we’ve buried the lede. Davis should play every meaningful minute at center in the playoffs,” Hughes added. “The rest should go to some combination of Gasol, Montrezl Harrell and even Markieff Morris. Yet Drummond is going to start, it seems, and all the numbers above indicate he’s not going to help L.A.’s efforts to repeat.”
Vogel on Playing Drummond & A.D. Together: ‘We’ll Figure It Out on the Fly’
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has been vocal in his support for Drummond since he signed with the team. Vogel recently admitted that the Lakers will have to “figure it out on the fly” in terms of how to utilize Drummond and Davis on the court together.
“Obviously Andre will have to get used to playing alongside AD in our system,” Vogel noted, per TalkBasket.net. “It’s just one of those things it’s going to take time. You have two great players that we’ll figure it out on the fly.”
If there is one thing Drummond does best, it is rebound, but Hughes suggests defensive boards do not “really matter anymore.” This is a strong statement that is not unpacked, and while the value may not be as high as it once was it is unfair to say it has no importance.
“Sure, but the best research now suggests defensive rebounding doesn’t really matter anymore,” Hughes explained. “Opponents are also shooting 59.5 percent inside six feet with Drummond as the primary defender, a brutal number. If the Lakers value Drummond’s passing from the elbows, they should value Marc Gasol’s superior skill in that area (and ability to shoot from deep) more. If they want rim protection, Anthony Davis should be the man at the 5.”
The jury is still out on how Drummond’s tenure with the Lakers will be evaluated, and Los Angeles has a short window to figure out how to play together once James returns to the lineup. All indications are Drummond will have every opportunity to prove he is capable of playing key minutes on a contender, but an early postseason exit will have people revisiting some of these same arguments.