The biggest player, in nearly every sense of the word, last season for the Cavs was Andre Drummond. After being obtained for the expiring contracts of Brandon Knight and John Henson along with a future second-round selection, Drummond was seen as a low-risk, high-reward gamble for general manager Koby Altman and Cleveland’s front office. The problem is, we didn’t get enough looks at Drummond under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff due to the coronavirus canceling Cleveland’s 2019-20 campaign.
Last season for Drummond
When he did play, there were some moments that were encouraging - like his game against the San Antonio Spurs where he posted 28 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks:
But, for all the good games there were plenty of frustrating moments with Drummond in his eight games with Cleveland last season as well. Drummond has the propensity and desire to do more than his game, and position, allow for. Sure, there have been flashes of his greatness in terms of defense, rebounding and scoring. But, there are also moments of him bringing the ball up in the half-court or jacking up three-pointers sprinkled in between. That’s where the problem in itself lies with Drummond - he tries to do too much outside of his expected role.
Traditional, plodding, monolithic centers like Drummond are dinosaurs in today’s NBA. Nowadays big men can rebound, defend, facilitate and stretch the floor. Drummond is just trying his damnedest to stay relevant for as long as possible. The Big Penguin (seriously this is his nickname) is trying everything he can to emulate Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez as a floor-stretching, drop coverage center, but, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness. He’s also trying to do this eight years into his career, and was one of his biggest red flags coming from Detroit to Cleveland. Clearly, Pistons fans concerns were valid and makes you worry about what impact Drummond will have on the Cavs this upcoming season.
Drummond’s role this season
With everything that was said in the section above, it’s difficult to adequately gauge what Drummond’s role will be with the Cavs this upcoming season. In a vacuum he best operates as a rim running big man on offense that can gobble up rebounds and play adequate defense on the other side of the court. The problem is, the extracurricular activity on Drummond’s part makes it difficult to figure out if he’ll play to his strengths or continue to be a detriment for the rest of his team.
That’s why it’s important to note that Drummond is in a contract year this season. If he does well and plays to his strengths - it’s likely because his agent is reminding him that there’s serious money riding on his production. Drummond will be auditioning for not only Cleveland, but the entirety of the league this year as well so the pressure is only doubled.
According to league sources, Drummond has been labeled as a “non-winning” player by a few top NBA front offices so the odds are stacked against him this year. Those same teams also see Drummond treating basketball like a job and not his passion - and he seems more fixated on becoming a social media influencer more than anything. In order to drop that moniker and fears associated with him, Drummond needs to play to his strengths and give up on the fleeting dream that is mimicking the Brook Lopez’s of the world.
Key stats to watch
A key stat to watch with Drummond is his three-point shooting percentage. The closer it is to zero, the better it is for both Drummond and Cleveland. Every Drummond three-pointer is as bad as a turnover and the more he hoists them, the less joy there is in the world.
In all seriousness, keep your eyes on Drummond’s rebounding numbers this season. He’s arguably one of the greatest rebounders of all time with a career average of 13.8 per game. Joining Drummond is Kevin Love (11.1 per game, career), Larry Nance Jr. (6.6 per game, career), JaVale McGee (5.1 per game, career), and Dylan Windler (7.8 per game, collegiate career). Those five players, Drummond included, will make Cleveland one of if not the best rebounding teams in the league next season. They still might not win a ton of games and I just think they’re neat.
Drummond will once again be a box score superhero and his statistical production will not equate what he does on the floor. Hopefully, he stops trying to freelance as a playmaking three-point shooter and plays to the overall strengths in his skillset.
He’ll also probably be traded at the deadline to another team. Whether that’s for heftier salary and draft picks or a possible upgrade, Drummond, and his extension will be his new team’s problem to deal with. With that said, he won’t be signing a long-term deal with the Cavs. If he does, I’ll get his Cleveland no. 3 mashed up with the butterfly he always posts on social media tattooed on my body - when it’s of course safe to do so again. That’s how sure I am that he won’t be a Cavalier beyond this season.