Better Know A 2012 NBA Draft Pick: Andre Drummond

Mar 7, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies center Andre Drummond (12) defends West Virginia Mountaineers forward Kevin Jones (5) during the second half of the second round at the Big East Tournament held at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Editor's Note: The 2012 NBA Draft is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start looking at this year's prospects. We've enlisted the help of a couple of our community's top draftnicks to break down as many prospects as possible from this year's class, whether they're high-lottery picks, potential first-round sliders or sleepers that could make an impact on a team from the second round. Today: Connecticut center Andre Drummond, by pantslessyoda1.

PREVIOUSLY: Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes.

Team: UConn

Expected draft position: Top Eight

College career recap: Andre Drummond joined the defending-champion Huskies as the consensus number two prospect in the country last August. With NBA caliber size and athleticism, he was frequently compared to other prep phenoms such as Amar'e Stoudemire and Dwight Howard, and was widely expected to anchor the defense of a stacked team with a legitimate shot at another deep tournament run.

However, the team drastically under-performed, finishing the season 20-14 and bowing out of the NCAA Tournament following a round of 64 loss to Iowa State. Drummond flashed skill as a defensive-first big man with a limited offensive game, but it wasn't hampered by poor ball movement and team chemistry. Following the Huskies' loss in the tournament, Drummond signed with an agent and declared for the 2012 NBA draft.

Basic Statistics Per 40 Pace Adjusted (via Draft Express)

Year

GP

Min

Pts

FGA

FG%

2PtA

2P%

3PtA

3P%

FTA

FT%

Off

Def

TOT

Asts

Stls

Blks

TOs

2011/12

34

28.4

14.3

12.3

53.8

12.2

54.1

0.1

0.0

3.7

29.5

4.8

6.0

10.8

0.6

1.2

3.9

2.2

Best attributes: Drummond is extremely young, but he has the size, length, athleticism and mobility to be an elite shot-blocker and rim protector from day one. Drummond was eighth in the NCAA in blocks per possession and 10th in blocks per game. As impressive as this is, he did it as the second youngest player in the 2012 draft class, meaning that he could very well get even bigger and stronger. Some of this is a result of chasing blocks -- Drummond was a very mediocre defensive rebounder and struggled to stay in position on defense -- but even if he plays conservatively and never chases shots he shouldn't, he should be able to protect the rim and guard the post at the next level.

Drummond is also an excellent offensive rebounder, pulling down 4.8 per pace adjusted 40 minutes and 14.2 percent of all available offensive boards when he's in the game. This is a common trait among the kind of uber-athletic prospects he gets compared to on a regular basis and is a good indicator of his athleticism and motor.

Biggest weakness: Drummond is very raw, to the point of almost becoming a parody of a project big man. Reputation for not really loving basketball? Check. Poor free throw shooter? Check. Can't make a shot that's not a dunk? Check. Afraid of contact? Check. No post moves? Check. Poor defensive rotations? Check. Poor defensive rebounder? Check. Prototypical NBA body at a young age? Check. High turnover rate? Check. Low usage rate? Check. Looks better in workouts than on the court? Check.

That said, these traits aren't necessarily the worst thing in the world. Yes, some or most of them have applied to Kwame Brown (more on him later) Eddy Curry, Yi Jianlian, Darko Milicic and Chris Wilcox, but they've also applied to Dwight Howard, Stoudemire and Jermaine O'Neal when they were young, as well as players who are somewhere in the middle like Brendan Haywood and Andre Bargnani. Successful or not, Drummond is the latest in a long line of big man prodigies who will most likely make a coach look terrible - -Why doesn't he just play the young guy more!? Why can't someone teach this guy how to shoot a hook shot!? How hard can it be to rotate properly!? -- or a GM look like the smartest guy in the room.

Drummond's most notable weaknesses are on the offensive end. His free-throw shooting is abysmal and he doesn't get to the line as much as he should. He's also very hesitant to use his overwhelming strength and athleticism advantages, rarely aggressively attacking the basket. Although he has a reputation for soft hands and a nice touch, he shot poorly on two pointers and has one of the ugliest turnaround jump shots you'll ever see, with the best comparison being a drunk Kwame Brown circa 2004.

Some of this can be corrected, and it may very well be, but Drummond will have to improve twice as much as a typical rookie to develop enough to be a rotation player on a good team by the end of the year.

Why he'd fit in D.C.: Nene is 29 years old, not particularly huge and fairly reliant on his quickness, so Washington could have a hole in the middle sooner than a lot of fans think. Even if Nene's decline is slow, Washington could use an athletic rim-protecting dynamo to play 18 minutes a night off the bench and cover for him when he experiences one of his yearly 10-game absences due to injury.

Drummond is also very fast for a big man, which fits well with the up-tempo team being built around John Wall. While his motor isn't elite, Drummond's excelled running the floor in Conneticut and it's easy to picture him, Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin and Nene slamming home transition dunks off of passes from Wall and Crawford.

Drummond would also make sense from a value standpoint. There aren't a lot of 7-foot guys who can run and jump at an NBA level, so they tend to get paid. Locking up a guy who could conceivably be a great big man for four years at a reasonable price, then having the right to match his deal for the next few years if he breaks out, would be good for a team that still needs to pay Wall and whichever young players it decides to keep. In a world where DeAndre Jordan and Haywood are both getting 10 million dollars a year, knowing that the middle is locked down for relatively little money would be good.

Why he might not: The obvious answer here is that he can't shoot and most likely won't ever be able to, which isn't ideal for a team built around a guard who attacks the basket. However, that's really not that big a deal, as Tyson Chandler and Kendrick Perkins have manned the middle for some pretty good offenses. Also, with the departures of Nick Young and JaVale McGee as well as the likely amnestying of Andray Blatche, Washington's culture is strong enough to take on a project at this point. There wouldn't be a ton of minutes for Drummond to play a lot this year, but that might actually work in his favor, since it could mean either more time in the D-League for him and/or time spent being taught by Nene.

Verdict: All that said ... don't do it. That is, unless you're willing to invest in a really good sports psychologist and a Hall of Fame center to mentor him 24 hours a day.

Drummond has a lot of good qualities and the upside is definitely there. Things like his touch, defensive rebounding, free-throw shooting and defensive rotations can be improved, even if there's no guarantee that they will be. From the neck down, the he's already a great player, and if he gets it together and works hard, he could be an all-star. Unfortunately, basketball isn't solely played from the neck down, and that's where Drummond runs into trouble.

Jonathan Abrams recently wrote an excellent article for Grantland on the divergent careers of Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. Despite coming out of high school with different but relatively equal from an overall talent perspective skillsets, Chandler excelled in the NBA and Curry became, well, Eddy Curry. The article mentions that Chandler had better coaches for his personality type -- intense and competitive compared to Curry, who was much more laid back and didn't seem to care all that much about what was going on on -- and that's something to consider. However, the paragraph that struck me the most was this one, featuring a quote from their teammate, Jay Williams:

Williams noticed differences not just in the games of Chandler and Curry, but also their personalities. "When Tyson would make a big-time play, he would come off the court and he would be so pumped up that you could see the emotion on his face," said Williams, who had his own promising career derailed by a motorcycle accident. "He had that kind of passion about the game. When Eddy would make a big play, he wouldn't have any emotion. It was kind of like a stone-cold killer. He had that look, but maybe not that mentality of a killer. You know what I mean? The biggest difference between Tyson and Eddy was Tyson always knew who he was on the court.

It's simplifying an extremely complicated story (which ironically is in part about how the difference in development between the two players wasn't as simple as it's currently made out to be), but the gist of this is that Chandler was competitive and Curry didn't seem to care. Drummond has a reputation for not particularly caring about basketball, and it shows in his game. He doesn't get super animated, he doesn't seem to relish dunking on people, and he doesn't seem to want to destroy his opponents. A lot of guys are like this as young players, but these are usually finesse players. Drummond is not and will not be a finesse player. If he pans out, it's going to be a result of him leading a defense and scoring off of dunks around the basket, both of which require intensity. That's something he just hasn't demonstrated.

Drummond may very well prove me wrong and I hope for his sake that he does. However, it's not a safe bet, and it's a lot more likely that he winds up having a career somewhere between Haywood and Kwame. Barring truly extreme behavior such as run ins with the law, weight gain or fights with coaches -- and in all fairness he hasn't shown any indication that he's a bad guy -- he'll have a job for 10 years, but it's most likely as a low-rung starting center on a so-so team or as a backup on a good one. He's certainly athletic and shares some traits with the Howards, Stoudemires and O'Neals of the world, but he's not as dominant as they were at similar points in their careers.

Stats don't tell the full story for any player, and especially not for a young big man with a raw game and off-the-charts physical tools. However, some insight can be gleaned from them, at least in a few categories. Even if you discount his college career, which is actually not that hard to justify considering all of the trouble the UConn program went through, you can glean a lot about just how raw Drummond is by looking at his high school production: 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks a game at a level of competition where even Kwame Brown, with his God-given will to dominate, averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

Bottom line: Drummond looks like a basketball player, but he doesn't play like one. The Wizards can't afford to whiff on what could very well be their last high lottery pick.

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