Until his signing with the Lakers, Andre Drummond has never played for a winning organization. Throughout his career, the media has dubbed him as the empty calories player. He can drop 30 points and 20 rebounds, but he might have no impact on the game’s outcome. Drummond will look to change the narrative about him and show he can contribute to winning.
Lakers reporter Mike Trudell reported when a reporter asked Drummond what his focus coming to the Lakers is, he responded:
Since the Pistons drafted him in 2012, he’s led the�NBA�in rebounds multiple times. He’s averaged 13.8 boards throughout his entire career. In recent seasons, his game has expanded a bit. Drummond began to work as a dribble-handoff big when Stan Van Gundy was the Pistons’ head coach. The system change showed up on the stat sheet as Drummond went from almost no assists per game to three in 2017-2018.
With LeBron James and Anthony Davis out, the Lakers need more talent to keep the roster afloat. Marc Gasol hasn’t cut it at center this season, and Montrezl Harrell is better coming off the bench to energize the lineup. Drummond will look to fill the starting spot. He brings the same size as Gasol but with more physicality and mobility on defense.
It’s hard for big men to find a significant role in the NBA nowadays unless you are a super talented player like Nikola Jokic, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Joel Embiid. The position has mostly been relegated to a role-playing position. Teams ask bigs to set screens and roll hard on offense. Defensively, they protect the rim and try to contain guards in the pick and roll.
An Incentive to Perform
Drummond’s huge contract came to a close when the Cavaliers bought him out. Likely, he will never get a contract in the $20 million range again. It’s possible that after this season with the Lakers, if he doesn’t perform, he might find himself without an NBA job or place in a rotation next season. There is a lot at stake for Drummond the rest of this season and the playoffs.
Mike Trudell’s quote is a sign that he recognizes that he is essentially auditioning for a spot next year. Most likely, the Lakers won’t resign him. Other teams who have an eye on Drummond will watch him for the rest of this season if he plays within himself. He is talented enough to where a team will sign him when free agency hits.
The criticism for Drummond was that he tended to overextend his abilities. On the Cavs, he would try to attack from the perimeter and make a play, which led to the occasional Shaqtin’ A Fool moment. The Lakers don’t need him to make plays like that. They need a big body who can guard the pick and roll and be a physical presence.
The Lakers are taking a low-risk, high-reward flyer. If Drummond doesn’t perform, they can resort to AD at the five and Gasol and Harrell in-between. If he does contribute to winning, he can elevate the team with his physicality.