What is there to say about Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond at this point? He has his flaws, but at a mere 20 years of age, he is already producing at an elite level in many areas of the game. With some minor improvements, which should be expected considering the relative greenness still left in him, Drummond could become an astronomical force in the NBA.
He is already an elite rebounder, currently pulling down 12 per game, with a knack for disrupting the ball, averaging 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He still has to fully grasp the concept of defense as a team function and improve his footwork in order to stay in position, but he has already shown the ability to be a game changer on that side of the ball. It is also encouraging to see that he is not routinely getting himself into foul trouble as he takes on a more meaningful role and plays more minutes. He has already adjusted well to the pace of the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, Drummond is among the league leaders in efficiency, shooting the ball at a 65 percent rate. You could make the argument that he is very offensively limited, and you’d be right. Drummond has only taken a total of four shots outside of eight feet so far this season. Most of his points come from alley-oops and putback jams. However, these facts also display an important aspect of Drummond’s game. He knows his role and he embraces it. Additionally, he is already able to see the defense and understand where to position himself in order to exploit it, despite his lacking offensive skillset.
Drummond does not turn the ball over, and he does not take bad shots. While he is not going to be torching opponents with his post-up game or free throw shooting anytime soon, he is also not going to put himself or his team into a bad position by trying to do too much with the rock in his hands. He has a high field goal percentage because he knows his boundaries and limitations.
It is this self-awareness that makes Drummond the young phenom that he is. He knows his strengths, and he knows how he can take advantage of his skill and athleticism without compromising the integrity of his team for personal gain. Simply put, he is playing smart basketball and refusing to knowingly put a bad foot forward when he doesn’t have to.
Knowing his flaws is also a crucial step in his improvement. If a player isn’t aware of where he needs the most improvement, his growth will be stunted simply because he cannot be sure where to place his focus. Drummond’s athleticism is off the charts, but it is also far more advanced than the rest of his game. The exciting thing about him is that he has the wherewithal to know that doesn’t make him invincible.
For a perfect example of the stars aligning perfectly between athleticism, skill, intelligence, work ethic and self-awareness, look no further than LeBron James. I’m not saying Drummond will reach those levels, but he appears to possess some of the characteristics necessary for greatness. It should be incredibly fun to watch him develop.