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FIBA World Cup: Andre Drummond 'fine' with role on Team USA

Detroit's young big man has a mature view about his lack of activity in Spain.

Andre Drummond's been forced to save his awesomeness for warmups
Andre Drummond's been forced to save his awesomeness for warmups
NBAE / Getty Images

Team USA keeps on winning at the FIBA World Cup in Spain, and Andre Drummond keeps on being the forgotten man. He played just four minutes in Thursday's 95-71 win over Ukraine, going scoreless with two rebounds and an assist (box score). But as the youngest player on the team, he's taken a rather mature view of his lack of activity. From Chris Kudialis, writing for the Detroit Free Press:

"It’s fine; we’re winning basketball games, and that’s the most important part about this experience," Drummond said when asked about his reduced role. "If I don’t get the opportunity to play, the coaching staff knows what they’re doing, and it just wasn’t the right time for me to be on the court."

[...] Rotating between the team’s third and fourth center with Plumlee, Drummond is averaging just 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 6.5 minutes per game. Though his role has been minimal, Drummond says his experience with the team in Spain has been memorable.

"I’ve been abroad before," he said. "But this has been great. I have the chance to watch my guys, watch and learn about the flow of the game, so when I get my opportunity, I go out there and make the right decisions."

Among the team's centers, Anthony Davis has averaged 20.6 minutes per game while DeMarcus Cousins has averaged 13.4. Drummond has averaged 6.5 minutes, slightly more than Mason Plumlee's 6.4, but Plumlee has played all five games while Drummond never left the bench Sunday against Turkey.

Drummond's mere presence on the roster will certainly pay dividends down the road in terms of experience, but I can't help but imagine what he'd do with significant playing time. After all, Ukraine's top player is former Piston center Slava Kravtsov, who led his team with 15 points and four rebounds in 26 minutes. Anyone doubt young Dre could top that?

That said, I understand the pecking order. Davis may be just a month older than Drummond, but he already served his time as Team USA's token youngster in the 2012 London Olympics, where he appeared in just seven of eight games and averaged a team-low 7.6 minutes per game. If Drummond follows the same path to prominence during international play, Pistons fans will have a lot to look forward to during the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Now that group play is complete, the FIBA World Cup enters the single-elimination portion of the tournament. Team USA's next opponent is Mexico on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET -- a nice appetizer to your college football viewing. The game can be seen on ESPN 2 as well as the Watch ESPN app.