Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
YouTube, meet Andre Drummond.
On a night when Staples Center patrons were treated to all kinds of high-flying heroics, the Pistons center still managed to soar above the rest.
The most GIF-worthy moment of the young season came in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Lakers. Drummond, who had just stolen the ball from Steve Blake, started the fast break by dumping it off to point guard Brandon Jennings. Instead of finishing the play himself, Jennings lobbed it up to Drummond, who caught it off the backboard for a monster slam.
Even if you're not into YouTube, there's still plenty to like about Drummond's game. Through nine games, he's one of just 12 players in the league averaging a double-double. In fact, the 20-year-old UConn alum (If you can even call him that, he only played 34 games there before jumping to the pros), has logged at least 14 points and 13 boards in each of his last four contests.
If you're surprised by Drummond's success, don't be. Just look at him.
Unlike some players who don't live up to their billing ("6-foot-11" Dwight Howard is believed to be much closer to 6-9), Drummond is every bit of 6 foot-10. We also believe him when he says he's 270 pounds. Some outlets actually have him listed at 280.
Drummond has what you would call an "NBA body." And he's putting it to good use. His 12 blocks this season are second-most on the team. He's also been among the league leaders in steals with an average of just under 1.8 per game (second-best among NBA centers).
And we haven't even arrived at Drummond's most redeeming quality yet. He's shooting a phenomenal 65.9 percent from the field this season, tops in the NBA. Since 2000, only one player has finished a season with a success rate of higher than 65 percent. That was Tyson Chandler during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign (67.9 percent).
Drummond's spectacular efficiency can be traced back to his careful shot selection. Drummond knows what he's good at and mostly it's dunking. According to Vorped.com, a site that specializes in shot charts, a whopping 27.7 percent of his made field goals this season have come on simple dunks with another 55.4 coming on tip-ins and layups (8.5 percent have come on alley-oops). Only two of his shots this season have come from outside the paint. Neither one went in.
Which leads us to Drummond's most glaring weakness. He's a pitiful shooter. He's only gotten one of his eight jump shots to fall this season (12.5 percent). Drummond was just as bad last season (18.4 percent on 38 attempts).
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this deficiency has made Drummond a historically bad free throw shooter. His career free throw percentage is just under 36 percent. That's actually an improvement from college when he shot only 29.5 percent from the line.
Shaq's free throw shooting (52.7 percent) never looked so good.
But similar to Shaq, who retired as the fifth-highest scorer in NBA history (he now sits at sixth after being surpassed by Kobe Bryant), Drummond's abominable free throw shooting hasn't slowed him down one bit. That's mostly because opponents don't seem to know about it.
For some reason, the Hack-a-Shaq movement hasn't made it to the Motor City yet. This season, Drummond has attempted 12 free throws. He's only made two of them (16.7 percent) but that's beside the point. Dwight Howard went to the charity stripe 24 times in one GAME this past weekend.
It's easy to see why this would be the case. The Rockets are winning games and the Pistons aren't. If there's no reason to foul in the fourth quarter, why would you? Until the Pistons figure out how to get a lead (they've lost five out of six), Drummond's biggest weakness will continue to go unexposed.
And to be fair, though Drummond can't make a free throw to save his life, many of the familiar pitfalls that plague NBA big men don't apply to him. Drummond rarely gets into foul trouble (he's fouled out once in 69 career games) and his turnover rate is exceptionally low (less than a turnover per game for his career). His scoring upside isn't particularly high because he shares the paint with Greg Monroe (16.4 ppg) but you have to admire the consistency Drummond has shown in the early portion of 2013-14 (nine boards or more in eight of nine games).
Drummond wears the number zero, which is exactly how many fantasy leagues he's available in on ESPN. I'm thinking that's the way it should be.
Now ... back to watching Drummond dunks on YouTube. Don't wait up. This could take a while.
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