Andre Drummond's First Quarter Has Been Historic

Andre Drummond, through 21 games, has put up numbers that rank among the all-time greats.

Andre Drummond has always had massive potential. He was widely considered one of the best prospects coming out of college when Detroit selected him ninth overall in the 2012 draft, and averaged 13.8 points, 13.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks on a per-36 minute basis as a rookie, albeit while playing just 20.7 minutes per game. The Pistons' star big man has averaged at least 13 points, 13 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game every season since.

For each of the first three years of his career, Drummond played alongside Greg Monroe in a crowded Pistons' frontcourt. While Monroe is a great player, he and the former UConn Husky great were not a perfect fit together. Both are true centers who want to establish the paint, and they often found themselves occupying the same space.

Although Drummond has managed to put up impressive numbers despite the less-than-ideal fit with Monroe, it wasn't until the former Piston left for Milwaukee and was replaced with stretch-four Marcus Morris during the offseason that young Pistons' star has been able to take his game to the next level. 

Rebounding at a Historic Clip

Here's a list of all of the players who have averaged 16 rebounds per game since the 1976 NBA and ABA merger: Dennis Rodman -- who accomplished that feat a mind-blowing five times for three different teams -- and Moses Malone. That's it. Two players, both of whom have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

As it stands, 21 games into the Pistons' season, Drummond is averaging a whopping 16.9 rebounds per game, a total that leads the league by a massive 3.7 boards -- DeAndre Jordan ranks second at 13.2 per game. He's grabbed an absurd 25.6% of his team's rebounds when on the floor, and 36.6% on the defensive end, both of which lead the league. To put those percentages in perspective, in the post-merger era, the only two players to capture such a high percentage of his teams' boards were Rodman and, surprisingly, Reggie Evans back in the 2012-13 season.

Drummond isn't just doing work on the defensive boards, but he's dominating the offensive glass as well. The Pistons' star big man is averaging 5.6 offensive rebounds per game, a full 1.4 more than Dwight Howard, who ranks second in the league. Just like his total rebounds, Drummond's season averages on the offensive boards are on a level with only the all-time great rebounders, with just four players -- Malone, Rodman, Charles Barkley and Jayson Williams -- matching or surpassing the Detroit center's production. 

A Double-Double Machine

As impressive as averaging more than 16 rebounds per game five times for three different teams is, Rodman could never match his defensive and rebounding prowess with offensive production. Although he averaged double-digit rebounds on 10 different occasions, the five-time NBA champion never once averaged a double-double for an entire season, which is what separates him from Drummond. Not only has the Pistons' big man averaged a double-double so far this season, but he's poured in 18.5 points per game on an efficient 52.7% shooting from the field. The only other player in post-merger NBA history to average at least 16 points and 16 rebounds per game was the aforementioned Malone who amassed a ridiculous 24.8-point, 17.6-rebound stat line on 54% shooting during the 1978-79 season.

After last night's 18-point, 15-rebound performance in just 24 minutes against the Lakers, Drummond now leads the league with 19 double-doubles on the year. He has recorded six more double-doubles than anyone else in basketball -- Russell Westbrook ranks second in the league with 13 -- and is now on pace for 74 for the season. If the Pistons' young star were able to reach 74 double-doubles, that would set the new single-season standard (although it is important to note that the NBA schedule wasn't expanded to 82 games until the 1967-68 season). In fact, only two players have ever surpassed 70 double-doubles in a season: Hall-of-Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and sure-fire future Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett.

A Bright Future

While I understand we're just a quarter of the way into the season and a lot can change over the course of 61 games, 21 games is a decent sample size, and what Drummond has been able to accomplish over that span is nothing short of spectacular. As long as the Pistons' star is able to stay healthy, there's little reason to believe he can't sustain similar production for the remainder of the season given the way Detroit is running their offense and spreading the floor. Drummond is only going to improve as he matures -- the man is still just 22 years old -- and he has the potential to not only put together one of the most impressive single-season campaigns we have seen in the past 50 years, but he has the talent to grow into one of the best big men the league has seen in the modern era.