NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Andre Drummond #12 of the Connecticut Huskies dunks the ball against Kris Joseph #32 of the Syracuse Orange during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
The history of teams striking out in pursuit of the mythical "dominant big man" is extensive and, depending on your allegiances, vaguely depressing. Even successful selections have frequently cost their teams shots at far superior players further down the queue (Bogut/Chris Paul, or Oden/Durant), and those denied even that fortune were often forced into such grim fates as paying millions and millions of dollars to Mike Olowakandi (mercifully long over) or Hasheem Thabeet (ongoing).
Andre Drummond, accordingly, will attract skepticism if selected among the first few picks of the 2012 draft. Like so many of his predecessors, Drummond has legitimate claims to future stardom, but he unequivocally ranks among the rawest top prospects in years.
Bio: Drummond, the draft's second youngest player behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, was born in Connecticut in 1993. He attended high school in Connecticut, absolutely dominating the prep circuit. In 2010, as a high school junior, Drummond played for the 2010 FIBA Under-17 World Championship U.S. team, which took gold.
After winning the national prep championship in 2011, Drummond graduated and announced his intention to spend one year at the Wilbraham and Monson Academy, but later reversed that decision. In August 2011, Drummond committed to UConn.
Stats: It was a mixed bag for Drummond as a freshman. His post scoring abilities failed to translate to the collegiate level, as he managed a paltry 1.02 points/possession despite being responsible for just 15% of his team's possessions. He often turned over (16% turnover rate), shot poorly from the floor for a center (51% true shooting), and failed to be a significant factor in UConn's decidedly strange offensive system which featured the guards Jeremy Lamb, Ryan Boatright, and Shabazz Napier alternately hoisting terrible shots.
Draft Express notes that Drummond shot 32% on 68 post-up possessions according to Synergy, and his free throw percentage on the year fell at 29.5%. While his defensive rebound rate was hardly stellar either (at 5.9 d. rebounds per 40, he was dwarfed by much smaller players like Thomas Robinson), Drummond did contribute significantly on the offensive glass (4.7 o. rebounds per 40) and defensively (3.8 blocks per 40). It's indeed the defensive side of the ball where pro scouts will drool over Drummond, at least for now.
Skills: The way Andre Drummond bounds about the floor impresses me even more than Anthony Davis' guard-like stances and movement for one simple reason - Drummond is massive. He's 7 feet tall and has a 7'5" wingspan, with a filled out frame (250 pounds). The agility he manages in spite of this bulk is simply staggering.
It's most evident in his defense of pick and rolls; there might not be a better hedging big prospect in this class. Drummond has the ability to stay with guards on the perimeter, show hard, and recover quickly to his man. The release of Bradley Beal, the timing of Anthony Davis, and the intensity of MKG have all rightly been swooned over in the buildup to the draft, and Drummond's pick and roll defense certainly ranks among those elite skills.
To call his offensive game "lacking" at this point would be an undeserved compliment; Drummond often struggles to finish over smaller players. But as with everything else in his game, even the negatives are rarely consistent. Drummond will rise for breathtaking dunks over strong defenders, has fantastic hands, and can even be seen both running and finishing fast breaks. The frequent Amar'e comparisons are likely a little bit misguided at this stage, at least in my estimation, but Drummond is so huge, strong, nimble, fast, and dextrous that one can't help but wonder if there's a ceiling here that even the likes of Amar'e could never touch.
Overall: A bad situation can ruin the development of even the most gifted of prospects, and there's almost no question that Drummond requires a good landing spot more than any other player in the lottery. The first couple years of his career, his first coach, and the first offensive and defensive systems he's asked to slot into will be absolutely crucial. In three years' time, we could be looking at Andre Drummond, the All-Defensive, offensively bruising monster, or Andre Drummond, the low-intensity, offensive challenged, inexplicably invisible man.
The latter will rightly scare scouts and GMs, but the former represents a ceiling far higher than that of Brad Beal, Thomas Robinson, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Teams have swung and missed for the big man home run so many, many times, but here comes Andre Drummond, daring them to try once more.