USA TODAY Sports
Sounds like hyperbole, but ESPN Insider's Tom Haberstroh helps make the case.
Drummond is currently producing at a level we've never seen in the NBA from a teenager. The 19-year-old big man is averaging 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks with 59 percent shooting, all in less than 20 minutes per game.
He also has a 21.9 player efficiency rating, the highest PER for any teenager in NBA history. If it keeps up, he'll have a better PER than Kyrie Irving, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony when they were teenagers.
Translate his numbers on a per-36 minute basis, and you're left with 13.0 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.5 steals with 59.7 percent shooting.
[...] However, he's not just a dunker. Like most youngsters, Drummond has a tendency to chase steals and blocks. But he also has displayed a knack for getting stops, as evidenced by the fact that he's currently the only player in the league to average at least 3.0 blocks and 1.5 steals every 36 minutes on the floor. Yes, he's raw, but he's already turning his tantalizing potential into a reality in the box score.
I really dig the sentiment, although I'll readily admit that "highest PER" and "best ever" aren't quite the same (neither is "most productive" or "highest PER"), especially in just 19.7 minutes per game. But still! The fact he's part of the conversation -- and a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate -- is amazing by itself.
Smart DBB readers have been making the comparison to Dwight Howard for some time, and you'll be happy to see objective observers are noticing the same:
This is where we arrive at the most logical destination when we talk about young talents: Who is his best comp?
To answer that question, we turn to fellow ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton, whose SCHOENE player projection system uses key player stats, as well as height and weight, to identify the most similar predecessors at the same age (ranked from zero to 100, with 100 being the most similar).
For Drummond, that's Dwight Howard. By a healthy margin.
The proof is in the
pudding playing time. We don't know yet if he can maintain production over increased minutes, but I can't wait to see him try.