Drummond is Pistons’ big man of the future – and now

Rookie Andre Drummond is averaging more than seven points and seven rebounds per game for the Detroit Pistons.

Andre Drummond and Kyle Singler, the Detroit Pistons’ other first year starter, have a chance to give the Pistons multiple all-rookie first-team players for the first time since Isiah Thomas and Kelly Tripucka, in 1982.

Drummond, a member of the U.S. team at the 2010 FIBA Under-17 World Championship, helped lead team USA to a 111-80 victory over Poland in the gold medal game.

After declaring that he would spend a post-graduate year at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in 2011–12, Drummond announced that he would instead attend the University of Connecticut. He also considered Kentucky, Louisville, Georgetown, and West Virginia.

Drummond appeared in 34 games as a freshman center at UConn, starting 30 games. He averaged 28.4 minutes of court time, averaging just 10.0 points per game and 7.6 rebounds. He led the team in rebounds per game, blocks per game, and field goal percentage (.538). He scored 20 or more points only twice, including a 24-point performance against Holy Cross in which he shot 11-12 from the field.

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the ninth-seeded Huskies fell to the eighth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones. Drummond scored just two points before fouling out after 26 minutes. A month later, he announced his decision to turn pro.

Despite an inauspicious collegiate career — the knock on Drummond was that he could show flashes of brilliance one minute, and then disappear from the court for the next several minutes — ESPN and NBADraft.net ranked him the number one player in the class of 2012, while Rivals.com and Scout.com ranked him number two. Liking his size and ability to rebound and block shots, the Detroit Pistons selected him with the number 9 pick.

The Pistons could have selected someone like Austin Rivers, who has the potential to develop into a star guard, or someone like Tyler Zeller or John Henson. So why draft someone perceived as a high risk? Because sometimes a high risk returns high dividends. He also seems to be the kind of castoff guy Joe Dumars loves on his team. Charlie Villanueva was viewed as a malcontent before coming to Detroit this season, and he’s starting to beat that rap.

Since joining the Pistons, Drummond has developed an offensive game, and he has shown the ability to pass the ball in a high-low setting or with his back to the basket. He’s also adept at defending in the low or high post — and he is an intimidator, a la Bill Laimbeer.

As of this writing, Drummond is ranked 13th in the league in blocks, 17th in offensive rebounds per game, and 33rd in overall rebounds. Those numbers might not be impressive, until one considers that Drummond has accomplished them while playing fewer than 20 minutes per game. Put another way, Drummond is ranked 171st in the league in minutes played.

If he were playing 36 minutes per game — Lakers’ Dwight Howard type numbers — Drummond would be averaging 13 points, 13.3 rebounds, and three blocked shots per game. Those rebound numbers would rank him third, behind only Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao, while his blocked shots would rank second in the league, behind Larry Sanders. Even his steals (1.5) would have him just outside the top 20 in the league.

Those numbers are not just All-Star caliber, but All-NBA third team worthy.

Is it any wonder the Pistons are so high on this guy? Pistons fans have much to look forward to in the coming years, with guys like Andre Drummond and Kyle Singler contributing.