Breaking Down Andre Drummond's Ridiculous Start
Andre Drummond has been really good this season. Like really, really good.
Six games into the season and he's averaging 20 points and 20 rebounds per game. Toss in 1.8 blocks and 1.8 steals, and it's one of the best starts for any player in recent memory. ESPN noted some incredible stats, comparing Drummond to other top centers including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon.
He boasts a PER of 28.2, good for sixth in the NBA. His nERD, our in-house statistic which measures number of games above or below .500 a league-average team would win with a given player as one of its starters, is 15.1 and ranks fifth in the NBA.
Let's break down his recent stretch of games and see just how valuable the 6-foot-11 center is to his team.
This is Drummond's fourth year in the league. Before this year, he had never averaged more than 14 points. This year, he's only been below 18 points in a game once. A huge reason for this is his increased usage. Drummond is averaging eight minutes more per game this year compared to last year. He's also playing a larger role in the offense, taking 23 percent more shots this year than last year, including 2.4 more shots in the post, according to NBA.com. His field goal attempts per-100 possession is about the same as last year, which may mean that this increased usage may be something that will hold for the season.
And he's making more shots than last year too. His 54.9 percent field goal percentage is better than last season, but still it lags behind the 60-plus percentages he put up his first two seasons. Drummond is averaging 0.96 points per post touch, which marks an increase from last year's 0.83.
Yet despite his increase in post presence, Drummond has actually played further away from the basket than other seasons. His average shot has come from 5.2 feet from the basket. Last season, his average shot was just under three feet away. Similarly, this season also marks the third straight year that Drummond's percentage of shots that were dunks has gone down. Finally, the percentage of Drummond's field goals that are assisted has also decreased, from 58 percent last year to around 46 percent this year.
We can really get a feel for just how impressive Drummond's start has been when we look at on court/off court data.
|Drummond Splits||On court||Off court|
|Points per possession||1.059||.712|
It only takes a glance at those numbers to see that when Drummond's on the bench, Detroit becomes remarkably inefficient. His hot start is a huge reason why the Pistons sit at 5-1, third in the East.
Always a relatively strong defensive player, Drummond has raised his level of play so far this season. He's fourth in Defensive Rating and first in Defensive Win Shares. Thanks to his dominant defense, the Pistons have gone from the 20th best defense to the 6th best, according the Basketball-Reference's Defensive Rating.
Again, the on/off numbers tell the whole story.
|Drummond Splits||On court||Off court|
|Points per possession||.907||1.106|
Since Drummond came into the league, he was seen as a special rebounder. As a 19-year-old kid, he averaged 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes his rookie season, third amongst players who played at least 30 games. After topping 13 per game in his past two seasons, Drummond has exploded for 20 per contest this year.
In six games this season, he's posted a 20-rebound game, a 27-rebound game and a 29-rebound game. He's currently leading the NBA in rebounds per game by just under seven rebounds per game. Let me say that again. He has seven more rebounds per game than the next best player. It's fair to say he's been the best rebounder in the league so far.
Advanced rebounding numbers paint a similar picture. He's currently leading the league in Total Rebounding Percentage, pulling down a ridiculous 27.9 percent of all rebounds for the Pistons. Enes Kanter is second, with 24.9 percent.
The numbers become even more ridiculous when you look at offensive rebounding, one of Drummond's main skills. The center currently has 43 offensive rebounds. The Clippers as an entire team have 45. If Drummond could only rebound on offense, he'd still average more per game than Lakers' 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert. With 7.2 offensive rebounds per game, Drummond would rank in the top 50 when only counting his rebounds on offense.
According to NBAwowy.com, when Drummond's on the floor, about 15.3 percent of Detroit's field goal attempts come after offensive rebounds. When he's on the bench, that number is decreased to 8.4 percent. For every nine Detroit offensive possessions, Drummond, on average, gets a rebound. In other words, his offensive rebounding has allowed Detroit to have 11 percent more possessions.
If Drummond can sustain a 20-20 season for the duration of the year, he'd be the first player to do that since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968-69. Even if his averages drop like most expect to happen, he could still be the first to average 15 and 15 since Kevin Love in 2010-11 and only the fourth since 1983.
It's been seven years since Detroit has made the playoffs. After seven straight years of 50-plus wins, the Pistons haven't topped 40 since 2008-09. With Andre Drummond putting up historical numbers, Detroit may be back on track.