It seems to become an offseason tradition with me: in-depth hand-wringing articles about Andre Drummond. Ones like “Andre Drummond’s broken post game could sink breakout season” and “Andre Drummond post-up experiment must end.”
Good news! The post up experiment ended. Phew.
After finishing in the top five in field goal attempts out of post ups in the previous three seasons, last year Drummond was 26th in the league. Post ups dropped from 27.5 percent of his offensive game to 13.1 percent.
Bad news! We’ve got a new topic for this year. Andre Drummond continues to push adding a jump shot on social media.
I’ve already talked in depth about why this is a terrible idea. Drummond went on to prove this correct when he started launching away in late March.
Yeah, sign me up for none of that. Spare me the “Oh the shot clock was running down, he had to take it” bull. He set himself up to be able to get those shots. It’s no coincidence that Drummond started talking about taking jumpers then start taking (seriously) 1000 percent more three point attempts per game over the last three weeks of the season.
Oh and now he’s apparently thinking step back fallaway long twos are good shots for him to be working on.
He posted two additional similar videos on Twitter. Scary indeed.
That’s bad news from a player who has historically not been the best decision maker on the shot selection front.
Which prompts the standard rebuttal of “Andre Drummond expanding his game isn’t a bad thing, don’t be so quick to dismiss it.” Ok. Here’s the thing: Andre Drummond does have an area of his game he needs to expand. But it’s not this.
Over the past three seasons, the same person has led the league in field goal attempts off putbacks. Last season, he dominated with 75 more attempts than the second highest person in the category. The person with the sixth most in the league? He had twice as many.
Of course, Andre Drummond gets a lot of shots off second chances. He’s the best offensive rebounder in the league. But the thing is: he’s really bad at them.
Last year he was in the 49th percentile in scoring efficiency on putbacks. He was in the 41st percentile in 2016-17 and 54th percentile in 2015-16. That’s leaving a lot of points on the table.
Which isn’t to be critical of Drummond. The Pistons wouldn’t have the chance for him to miss all those shots if he wasn’t such a terrific offensive rebounder. But it is an opportunity.
Too often, Drummond rushed his putbacks. With more focus, footwork, and doing a better job at collecting himself, it would do a world of good in improving his results. And he’s capable. At times he did a really nice job using his quickness and length to get the putback up quickly. But he needs more tools in his toolbox than just this. And he really doesn’t have them.
The foundation is there though.
When talk of adding a jumper to Drummond’s game, Stan Van Gundy said, “It’s not a high priority, but I think the more he can catch the ball in that short area on the roll, it’s good. He’s trying to make some progress, but it’s certainly not the highest priority. The more would be his shot and his jump hook around the rim, getting a little more efficient there.”
That’s absolutely correct.
Andre Drummond’s putbacks are absolutely an aspect where he can focus on improvement. Looking at some others who boast a field goal percentage of around 10 percentage points better than Drummond like LaMarcus Aldridge, Enes Kanter, Dwight Howard, and Karl-Anthony Towns, it’s easy to see where his improvement can come from.
Once he’s no longer able to get a quick, clean look, he becomes increasingly off-balance and inaccurate. Too often it becomes little more than just flinging the rock at the hoop.
But watch how those other guys do it.
Enes Kanter is super savvy when going back up with an offensive rebound, playing fast but not rushed. Big difference.
The thing Howard does really well on his putbacks is playing physical. He’ll use his strength to create space, and he’s always going up toward the basket. Drummond should take note of both of those things.
Aldridge is interesting to look at, since he’s the least athletic and most finesse of these guys. But the thing that makes him successful is he does a great job of staying balanced and in control. You never see him flopping around like a beached fish out there the way Drummond occasionally gets.
It may not look like much, but there’s a lot going on with these guys that aren’t happening with Drummond. They take their time, they’re quick but under control, they’re balanced, they’re moving toward the rim on the shot rather than falling backward, they’re focused, they’re physical.
The problem is that this kind of work doesn’t look as cool on social media.
That’s not to say that Drummond only works on stuff that looks cool on social media, I’ve seen the guy’s drills and he is certainly a hard worker. It’s that he’s heading into a summer without a head coach in place and doesn’t have the benefit of that guidance.
The last time that happened, we emerged with that disastrous post up experiment that lasted three years. There’s a precedence of poor decision making on shot selection and the area of his game that would benefit from expansion.
And adding a jumper would certainly be a poor decision. The midrange jumper is the least efficient shot in the game. Even if Drummond proved to be reasonably competent on the shot, a competent midrange jumper is still just a 45 percent shot. That’s not good!
Ok, so perhaps it’d open up more opportunities for closer shots. That’s going to be your rebuttal, right? We can set aside the faulty logic of taking bad shots in order to maybe generate good ones, Drummond’s field goal percentage from 0-3 feet is already 65 percent. So what, he’s going to start shooting 75 percent from that range to offset his drop in field goal percentage from the midrange shots? No, that’s not happening.
And those three pointers, no. I’m perplexed by how some folks actually think this is a realistic thing. It’s not easy for a player to become a solid three point shooter. Look at Stanley Johnson. He’s busted his ass to become a better shooter, but is still posting 28 percent from three. Drummond’s not just going to just wake up and be a 35 percent three point shooter. It’d be an ugly ride and the destination would probably be the same as the post up experiment was. Abandoning it.
Perhaps the best cautionary tale is Josh Smith. His foray of redefining himself as a shooter led to him being out of the league by 30. The guy is still only 32 years old. But his career is done, and for one reason. Deciding he was a jump shooter.
On the flip side, working on improving this aspect of his game that already exists could have some pretty nice results. If Drummond were able to get his percentages up to the range of Howard, Aldridge, and Towns, it’d boost his overall field goal percentage from 52.9 percent to 54.7 percent and would bump his true shooting percentage from 55.5 percent to 57.2 percent.
Those are two really different alternatives. Which could yield to very different potential players. One of them you really want on your team. One of them you don’t.