Is Andre Drummond ‘Getting What He Deserves’?

Prior to Christmas, Matt Watson posted an excellent article entitled, Andre Drummond 'getting what he deserves,' says Lawrence Frank. This generated a ton of responses, most of them on whether Drummond truly is getting all the playing time he merits. Many of us commented that we feel the approach Coach Frank has taken to developing Drummond looks on-target. Kevin Sawyer boldly countered that Drummond deserves significantly more playing time than he’s getting, and bravely took on all those who challenged him. All in all, it was DBB at its finest, with lots of people weighing in with their views and arguing the pros and cons.

I think madpoopz summarized well the view of those of us who basically defend Frank’s approach:

You look at multiple young big men and you will see a similar trend in minutes for the first few months played. You can say we’re supporting Frank all you want, but we’re supporting a general technique that Frank is using.

Prior to this post, I’d been researching how much playing time rookie big men typically get. In many cases they do start out playing fewer minutes at first, but see an increase over time. The exceptions are usually the guys who become starters at the beginning of the season – like Dwight Howard (31.9 mpg before the All-Star break, 33.7 after). But what is the overall trend for how much playing time rookie big men receive?

To answer this question, I looked back at the NBA Drafts from 2001 to 2012. I found that of the first 10 picks for those 12 years, teams selected 51 players who were considered power forwards or centers. Then I looked at their stats for their rookie years and made some calculations and comparisons. So what did I find out? On average, these rookie bigs played 21.1 minutes per game. Of course, that average is for the whole season. I didn’t calculate what the average was for all of them in the first half of the season versus the last half (that would have taken much longer!), but in those cases where I did the trend was clear. For example, Greg Monroe averaged 25.3 mpg before the All-Star break, and 33.2 mpg after it. Through his first 30 games, Andre Drummond, averaged 18.8 mpg. Through November he was averaging 17.1 minutes; in the first 13 games of December he was up to 21.1 minutes. So for December his playing time has equaled the season average for a NBA rookie big man of the last 12 years.

So is Drummond "getting what he deserves"? If he is an average rookie big man, the answer should be a simple yes. But a look at the stats shows us that Andre Drummond is an above-average rookie in many ways. (For my comparisons, I’ve used Per36 stats. In doing so, I realize the limitations of this metric. In isolation, it can give a misleading appraisal of a player’s potential. For example, Darko Milicic averaged 9.7 boards, 10.9 points, and 3.4 blocks Per36 as a rookie. That’s not bad for an 18 year old. But a look at some of his other stats – such as a WS/48 of - .049 – shows that he wasn’t very good. And, sadly, he never did become a good player. Was Per36 wrong? No. But since Darko only played 4.7 mpg as a rookie, it wasn’t very useful for projecting his future production. What a guy can do in "garbage time" as a "human victory cigar" is not a strong indicator of his potential. But I think Per36 is a useful meaurement for comparing players when they have played significant minutes.)


One of our greatest concerns about Drummond entering this season was his rebounding, because he only grabbed 7.6 boards per game in college. As a pro, this has probably been his greatest strength. Among the 51 rookie bigs I looked at, his Per36 average of 13.1 is tops. Here are the top 5, with their Per36 averages (and their actual mpg in parenthesis):

Andre Drummond (18.8).......... 13.1

Kevin Love (25.3)...................... 12.9

Blake Griffin (38.0)................... 11.4

Dwight Howard (32.6)............. 11.1

Al Horford (31.4)....................... 11.1

Blocking Shots:

Drummond averaged 2.7 blocks per game in college, and I think most of us felt that part of his game would translate well to the pros. And it certainly has. While there have been several rookies among these 51 who have a higher swat rate, most (like Darko) have played fewer minutes. Among those who have averaged at least 17 minutes, he finishes second:

Epke Udoh (17.8)........................ 3.0

Andre Drummond (18.8)........... 2.9

Bismack Biyombo (23.1)............ 2.8

Tyson Chandler (19.6)............... 2.4

Brook Lopez (30.5).................... 2.2

Yao Ming (29)............................. 2.2

Win Shares/48:

Win Shares/48 is an advanced stat that estimates the number of wins a player contributes per 48 minutes. The league average is about .100, so a player with a rating below that is not helping his team win much. And a player with a negative Win Share is causing more harm than good! Of the 51 rookie bigs I looked at, 25 had a WS/48 of over .100. None of them had a higher rating than Andre Drummond.

Andre Drummond................ .176

Yao Ming................................ .176

Greg Oden ............................. .167

Blake Griffin.......................... .152

Anthony Davis...................... .147

All of these stats certainly make a strong argument for playing Drummond more. While his offensive production is not unusual (33 of the 51 averaged 12 + ppg Per36), and his foul shooting is awful, his overall production is exceptional. I think Drummond has earned more minutes than he’s been getting. But I also see how issues of stamina, avoiding injuries, and the Pistons bench rotation have affected the playing time he has received so far.

In conclusion, I fully agree with another comment by madpoopz:

If the minutes all of a sudden become stagnant I guarantee you that I will become upset, but as of this moment in time the evidence suggests that there is a plan in place to get Drummond up to the minutes we want.

FanPosts are user-created posts from the Detroit Bad Boys community and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all fans or the staff at DBB. The DBB staff reserves the right at any time to edit the contents of FanPosts as they reasonably see fit.

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