Lakers

Drummond Doesn’t Provide What Lakers Need

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If you scroll around NBA Twitter or Reddit lately, all the buzz is around the trade deadline. March 25th is the last day teams can exchange players make trades for the 2020-21 season. With the deadline approaching, all eyes are on the LeBron “LeGM” James-led team. It seems like an annual tradition that the King’s club attempts to make a major move in March.

So what do fans and analysts expect this year? Andre Drummond.

Drummond Conundrum

Drummond has been one of the greatest rebounders in the association for nearly a decade. This season he’s been on a Cavaliers team that has no plans to compete this year. After a surprising start, the team has returned to earth.

Along with Drummond not being on a contender, he has not played since February 12th due to the emergence of Jarrett Allen and a mutual understanding that Drummond is not part of Cleveland’s future.

The Emergence of the ‘Fro

Since Drummond’s removal from the Cavs’ rotation, Allen is averaging 14.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. With this dominance, he has become one of the most efficient scorers with a 65% field-goal percentage. He is also five years younger than Drummond and looks to be a part of the Cavaliers’ young core with Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Isaac Okoro.

So obviously both sides welcome a change, but what would it take for a team to acquire him?

Assets for Andre

The Cavaliers are looking for young pieces, draft picks and expiring contracts. They have no plans to compete anytime soon, so they just want pieces that will help build their core. Shams Charania reported earlier that the Cavaliers are looking for a second-round pick for the big and have no plans to buy him out now. Drummond’s price tag is a little north of $27 million, so what do the reigning champs have to offer?

The Lakers’ salary cap situation is, complicated.

They have around half of their regular cap space taken up by Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Their mid-tier contracts are held by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($12 million), Dennis Schroder ($15 million) and Montrezl Harrell ($9 million). It is safe to say none of those players are getting moved because they mean too much to the team’s identity and are more essential pieces for their repeat hopes.

The only realistic way the Lakers nab the big man is through the buyout market, but even that may be more hype than substance.

Big Name, Small Impact?

Drummond’s numbers over his career are something out of an NBA2K MyCareer. He sports averages of 14.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. He is a 3x rebounding champion and 2x All-Star.

There is more than meets the eye, however.

For starters, Drummond has only made the playoffs twice, getting swept both years. Some may contribute that to bad teams, but one year he was alongside an All-NBA Blake Griffin. It is excusable that they lost the series and even got swept, but they lost by an average of 23.8 points per game.

So maybe Drummond is better as a complimentary piece. That is what he would end up in LA alongside two of the top 10 players in the game after all.

Even that may be a stretch, though.

Breaking Down the Numbers

As previously mentioned, Drummond has had godly rebounding numbers, but what about his efficiency? For starters, he is a non-shooter. Perhaps the worst in the league. He cannot shoot a shot outside the paint. Even his paint shots are league average at best.

Take a look at his shot chart.

Shot splits

  • Alley Oop
    • (9/12) 75.0 FG%
  • Bank Shot
    • (3/5) 60.0 FG%
  • Dunk
    • (38/49) 77.6 FG%
  • Fadeaway
    • (1/2) 50.0 FG%
  • Finger Roll
    • (7/10) 70.0 FG%
  • Hook Shot
    • (31/67) 46.3 FG%
  • Jump Shot
    • (19/53) 35.8 FG%
  • Layup
    • (92/210) 35.8 FG%
  • Tip Shot
    • (18/33) 54.5 FG%

Those inside scoring numbers wouldn’t cut it for a 6’0″ point guard, let alone an interior presence. He is shooting 47.4% FG this season. Let me repeat for the people in the back, he is shooting sub-50 percent in the year 2021 as a big man.

Drummond currently holds the 14th-worst true-shooting percentage in the league at 50%. The only “big” worse than him is his former teammate and current Brooklyn Net, Blake Griffin.

I hear you say “what about his defense and rebounding?”. Well, let’s examine that.

“But He’s Elite Defensively”

While it is true Drummond is currently second in rebounding percentage (Clint Capela) and first, in defensive rebounding percentage, that number is lying to you. Remember when everyone was saying Russell Westbrook was stat-padding his MVP season by having Steven Adams box out for him?

Drummond does that in his unique way. In the NFL the term is referred to as drop coverage. Drummond will stay in the paint away from his defender in hopes of a miss and a rebound.

Drummond’s Defensive Lowlights

What do all these games have in common? They are all against the Lakers’ biggest threats in the West (apologies to the Utah Jazz, he did not dress for that game). My point is that defensive rebounds do not make someone a good defender. So maybe Andre should watch some of his game film before he goes and posts this

Drummond currently has the 25th worst win shares per 48 minutes. He is middle of the pack in defensive rating (131st). He is overrated as a defender. Some may be thinking if the Lakers get him in the buyout market it can only help the squad, but that is not taking into account fit and scheme. 

The Big Penguin and the Brow

Yes, Andre Drummond’s nickname is the big penguin and yes, he would be playing next to AD come playoff time if he is on the squad. Davis averaged 36.6 minutes per game in the 2020 playoffs. He played center in the finals and JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard saw limited minutes (both better defenders than Drummond). Drummond would be behind Harrell due to Trez’s energy, mid-range shooting and versatility. Marc Gasol will not be playing more than 15 minutes per game come postseason time. Here are the players projected higher on the depth chart for the playoffs.

At best, Drummond is the 10th player in the rotation. That is not moving the needle in a championship run. He does not space the floor which is a key for any LeBron-led team. The big cannot play alongside AD and is not better defensively than a 36-year-old Gasol.

On top of all of this, he does not fit the Frank Vogel defensive system. Maybe if it was 2015 he could have a Roy Hibbert rim-protector role, but even with that, he does not have the same awareness and verticality Hibbert had with those Pacers squads.

Targets

Drummond is not worth it. The Lakers need wing defenders to compact the Clippers’, Nets’, Nuggets’, Jazz’s and Trail Blazers’ perimeter scoring. They should be targeting James Ennis, Delon Wright, Danuel House, David Nwaba, Ben McLemore or George Hill. If they need big-man help, DeMarcus Cousins Mo Bamba and Hassan Whiteside would be cheaper options with higher upside. 

Even if Drummond ends up on the Nets, it should not change the championship odds. The Nets should be the favorites right now with the uncertainty around AD and the unprecedented firepower they have on offense. Casual NBA fans saw Blake Griffin as a difference-maker, but he is not better than Bruce Brown, Joe Harris, Jeff Green or Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot at the moment.

Just because it is a big name who puts up big numbers does not mean the Lakers should make a move. 

Rob Pelinka is a top executive in the game and he will make the right decision for the team. Even if it is not flashy, it will be the correct move. He has earned Laker Nation’s trust after last year. 

The Lakers need to focus on internal improvement. As of March 15th, they rank 25th in turnovers, 18th in offensive rating, 27th in three-pointers made, and 24th in three-point field gold percentage. Andre Drummond does not help any of those.

Especially turnovers.

Trust Rob

Los Angeles also ranks first in defensive rating while Drummond can only bring down. The team needs shooters and more synergy. Turnovers are fixed through trust and team chemistry. Adding someone who does not fit the system and will be looking to stat-pad in hopes of a big deal in the offseason does not fit the culture. 

What the team needs to do is get healthy and work together. The addition should be made through practices with the players currently on the team. Keep in mind, the team was in a three-way tie with the Bucks and Clippers when the season was suspended. Only one of those teams made it out of the second round because of chemistry. 

A lot can change in few months. People called Kyle Kuzma an average role player who was more name value than substance. They’re probably looking like a fool now.

Follow us on Twitter @LakersLead for the latest Lakers news and insight. 

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About Max Levy

Lakers social media manager and insider

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