When Drummond was sidelined by a stress fracture in his back on Feb. 6, he was beginning to generate support as a Rookie of the Year candidate. While clearly he was a long shot to beat out Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis, his consistent productivity in less than 20 minutes per game was impressing players, coaches, commentators and fans. For example, over the past 12 years, the only rookie big man to rebound at a rate comparable to Drummond's Per36 of 13.7 is Kevin Love (12.9 in 2008-09).
As a way to gauge what we might expect from Drummond next season, I looked at how some other centers have produced in their second year in the league. For my sample group, I went back as far as 2001, and chose 8 centers who were picked in the top 10 and played no more than 2 years of college ball. In each case the first stats shown are for the player's rookie year, with their second year recorded below them. Actual stats and Per36 stats are shown side by side for ease of comparison. (I also listed WS/48 just for fun!)
What conclusions can we draw from these comparisons? First, in every case the player logged more time his second year. The biggest jumps were for Bynum and Hawes, but this was affected by the fact that they played less than the other rookies. Chandler's 19.6 minutes is the closest to Drummond's 19.7, and he went up to 24.4 his second season. Chandler also started 68 of 75 games (he started 31 of 71 as a rookie). Assuming that Drummond will start at center next season, it follows that his playing time will increase. Keith Langlois of Pistons.com indicated this was a likely goal in the following quote from a recent True Blue Pistons piece (Joe D: On Drummond): "What he gave them for 20 minutes a game this season could be extended to closer to 30 minutes next season as he becomes stronger and better conditioned."
So for these projections, I think 30 minutes per game is a reasonable expectation. Now if we assume that Drummond's rate of production will be a constant from year 1 to year 2, then we are looking at 11.4 boards, 11.2 points, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 steals. I don't see how anyone could be disappointed by those stats, which would instantly elevate Drummond into discussion as one of the top centers in the East. By way of comparison, Joachim Noah is giving Chicago 12.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 37.7 minutes this year. Chandler is providing New York with 10.7 points, 11.0 boards, 1.1 blocks and .6 steals in 32.9 minutes. Al Horford is quietly putting up 17.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals for Atlanta in 37.5 minutes.
Of course, it's entirely possible that Drummond's rate of production will increase in his second season. But is there a way to project how much it might rise? I don't believe we can attach any great level of certainty to such projections, but it's still worth exploring. And if we look at the percentage increases for the other 8 centers, I think we can suggest what may be possible. For this projection, I simply used their Per36 stats to calculate the percentage increases for their second seasons. While in a few cases a player's rate of production dropped slightly, on the whole they all rose. (Since there was little change in blocks or steals, I didn't bother with them.)
When it comes to rebounding, the sample 8 centers saw an overall percentage increase of 6.5%. For scoring, their percentage increase was 21.2%. (My assumption is that this difference reflects the greater degree to which skill development impacts scoring.) So, if we were to assume that Drummond's rebounding would see a similar 6.5% rise, then we could expect to see him grab 12.1 boards per game in 2013-14. And if his scoring were to increase by 21.2%, he could give us 13.6 points per outing.
I think Drummond is very likely to average 12 rebounds per game next season, assuming that he starts and logs about 30 minutes a night. I also think 13-14 points per contest is a reasonable expectation. Add in his intimidating defensive presence with 2-3 blocks and 1-2 steals per game, and Andre will be "The Beast of the East!"