By Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
It seems like there’s always one player who gets hit with the ultimate buzzword when it comes to the annual HR meeting of hiring new talent to each of the 31 NBA organizations. Also known as the NBA Draft.
Two years ago, it was Demarcus Cousins. Four years ago, it was Russell Westbrook. Eight years ago, it was Josh Smith. There are other examples, but I was working on my arithmetic with my little cousin over the phone. 2 to the 1st power is 2. 2 to the 2nd power is 4. 2 to the 3rd power is 8. My apologies, I’m getting off topic. So of course there’s been a player pegged with labels like “a ton of talent” but is also “a project, with flawed mechanics.” He’s been pegged as a possible top-5 pick in the draft, and bloggers and journous are teeing off on this person being a bust almost immediately.
That person would be Andre Drummond of the Connecticut Huskies.
Lets get some of the particulars out of the way with Drummond. The man is 6’11”, 275 pounds. Uber-athletic. Physically dominant. Imposing. He’s also still just 18 years old, played a year of basketball at UConn, with a team that was as dysfunctional as an episode of Real Housewives of (fill in the blank of any show ever, not that I watch any of these shows). Some say that he’s immature. Some say that his skills are too raw. Some say that his real damage won’t even be with his first contract, but the next contract he signs. What? As stated over at Sheridan Hoops:
The real danger of using a high pick to select a guy like Drummond, given the history of “prototype” centers like(DeAndre) Jordan, Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic, is not on their rookie contract. Drummond surely will be given a free pass to have his third and fourth years picked up due to his combination of size and youth. All he needs to do thereafter is look alive for half a season, and teams will be lining up to offer him a contract averaging eight figures, hoping that potential will start to show. This is a guy who has the potential to be not only a poor selection, but also a long-term cap killer.
What? This man hasn’t even played a day in the league, and folks are trying to write-off a prospect because he’s young and a prototypical center? In what world does this make sense? Making the comparison to players like DeAndre Jordan, Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic is lazy. There have been plenty of players that have fit Drummond’s description and turned out pretty darned good.
Did we say the same things about Dwight Howard? We saw how that ended right? Charlotte went for “experience” and being “ready to play today” with Emeka Okafor. Charlotte’s been picking in the lottery ever since. Orlando will get their 8th year out of Dwight. You can question the man’s fortitude when it comes to his loyalty to his organization, but since Dwight’s been a member of the Magic, they’ve made the playoffs 6 straight years.
What about Andrew Bynum? We saw how that ended right? Yes, Milwaukee picked Andrew Bogut No. 1. Solid choice, won’t criticize that one. However, Toronto picked Charlie Villanueva. New York picked Channing Frye. Golden state picked Ike Diogu. All ahead of Bynum, who was picked by the Lakers at No. 11, who was physically the prototype but raw and young. All three of those teams I just named still don’t have a big man worth a damn. Yes, I’m looking at you, Amar’e Stoudemire.
Does that mean that folks should take Andre Drummond over Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson? No. Both are physically ready to come in and contribute, and both have phenomenal upside as well. I’d put the Unibrow’s ceiling at Kevin Garnett, and Robinson’s at Blake Griffin, respectively. Writing off someone like Drummond, who had to spend a year playing for a UConn Huskies squad that was without the coaching of Jim Calhoun for a lengthy period of time, seems foolish. If you have the coaching in place and a few veteran leaders who can mentor a player like Drummond, then the sky is the limit.
Or, you could be foolish and just write-off Andre Drummond, be safe and pick Jared Sullinger in the lottery. That’s no diss towards Sullinger, who was highly productive in his years at Ohio State. Unfortunately, we’ve seen players of his ilk hit the league in the past, and his ability to contribute at an elite level is more questionable than Drummond’s.
Can your team in the lottery afford to pass on the next Howard or Bynum? That’s not the real question. The real question is, can your team afford to be mediocre again and again and again…