Andre Drummond started the season on a tear. In his first six games, Drummond had three 20-20 games including one 25-25. Since then, he's gone from a god among men to a mere mortal that happens to be the best rebounder in the NBA. Drummond still leads the league in rebounds per game and all rebounding percentages, but his rebounding numbers have tapered off some. Let's look at some of the reasons this may be.
The Pistons started the season with one of the toughest schedules in the league. With plenty of road games, back-to-backs and heavy pre-season practice schedule, it's no wonder a near 7-foot, 280-pound behemoth may begin to tire.
Rest, it appears, is a big factor in just how dominant Drummond is on the boards. On rested games, he's averaging 16.6 rebounds per game. On games with no rest, that number drops to 12.5. There have been eight such games. His high rebounds for games with rest is 29, his high for games with no rest is 13. If you look at a rolling 10 game sample of Dre's rebounding, you'll see that he's settled into a comfortable 14-15.5 rebound range.
It is no secret that the Pistons have had a hard time shooting the ball this season. The Pistons are currently shooting 42.7 percent, which is below league average. The Pistons are currently the third-worst shooting team in the league. But missing shots is good for rebounding and good for Drummond.
If you look at the games where the Pistons shoot below their season average, Drummond is averaging 16.9 rebounds per game. However, in games where the Pistons shoot their average or better, he is averaging 14.7 rebounds. Here is a 10 game rolling average of the Pistons shooting percentages.
This shows in his offensive rebounding. After the first 10 games, Drummond was averaging 6.5 offensive rebounds per game. By the end of November, that was down to 5.9 per game. He now sits at 5.5 offensive rebounds per game.
Another thing that limits Drummond's rebound potential is getting into foul trouble. Andre commits a lot of fouls. He's had some foul issues that impact his minutes, but he's actually averaing just 3.0 fouls per game, down from 3.4 and 3.5 fouls the past two years, respectively.
In games where Drummond has zero through three fouls in a game, he is averaging 16, 19, 16.8 and 16.3 rebounds per game respectively. When Drummond has four fouls in a game, his average drops to 12.7 rebounds per game. When Drummond has five fouls, he pulls in 13.2 rebounds per game. He's only fouled out once, and that was in the epic four-overtime win against the Chicago Bulls where Drummond played 54 minutes and pulled in 21 rebounds.
Of Drummond's 20-rebound games (excluding the Chicago game), all were with three fouls or fewer.
Drummond could be slowing down due to the grind of the NBA season, but Drummond's version of slowing down means he's still the most prolific rebounder in the NBA. Combine that with the Pistons shooting better, Van Gundy pulling him in response to Hack-a-Dre and it's understandable why Drummond isn't on the 18-rebounds pace he was to begin the season. He's still the the best, however. In all of his 10 game rolling averages, he still averages more rebounds than the next best rebounder does on the season.