TrueHoop: Andre Drummond

The Big Penguin takes flight

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
2:09
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
Penguins can fly! This big one does, at least. If only the Pistons had the personnel to surround Andrew Drummond with shooters like Dwight Howard in Orlando, says David Thorpe.

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Orlando Summer League: Final Judgments

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
7:36
PM ET
By Jordan White
ESPN.com
Archive
Here are some farewell takes from Friday's last day of the Orlando Pro Summer League:

Top Performers

Victor Oladipo, Magic

Rookies aren’t supposed to be this poised, this polished. They’re not supposed to display a defensive savoir faire far beyond their young years, and they’re certainly not supposed to be as comfortable taking the shot to win the game as they are the one to open it. And yet, Oladipo is all of these things. He wasn’t perfect in Orlando, with turnovers plaguing him in every game, but every other aspect of his game was either as good as advertised or better. Averaging 19 points, five assists and three steals per game while shooting 53 percent from deep and 82 percent from the line, Oladipo’s only main areas of worry were his oddly low field goal percentage (37 percent) and his turnovers (nearly five per game, which is to be expected of a rookie just now learning the point guard position).

Kelly Olynyk, Celtics
Will he be able to get his shot off against NBA-caliber athletes? Can he rebound dependably despite his Tyrannosaurus Rex-rivaling wingspan? Will he be anything more than a complete liability on defense? While Olynyk might not have completely eased these concerns, he’s well along the path to doing so after his stellar week in Orlando. Olynyk did so much more than just score the ball (though he did that, too, quite a bit); he rebounded very well, averaging eight rebounds per game -- fourth overall out of all players -- and displayed surprising court vision. His defense, specifically his lack of strength, will be a hindrance, but it wasn’t as if he was a total sieve on that end of the floor.

Solomon Hill, Pacers

Give credit to Indiana’s draft strategy: Hill might have been a reach, but he was the player they wanted, so they took him regardless of where he was projected to go. Likewise, credit must also go to Hill for coming here and outperforming the expectations many had for him. The Pacers rookie was tremendously efficient this week, averaging 14.5 points on just 9.5 shots per game and shooting 55 percent from beyond the arc. As I wrote in Thursday’s dispatch, his shooting is going to be the key to him finding the floor in Frank Vogel’s offense.

Andre Drummond, Pistons
Drummond’s averages of 15 points, 15 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game were effortless -- even a little underwhelming -- as nobody could hope to match his gargantuan blend of mass and athleticism. One cause for concern -- though certainly not a new one -- was Drummond’s putrid production from the free throw line. He shot just 23 percent from the charity stripe in his three games. Presumably, Detroit sent Drummond to summer league to further polish his game in a competitive setting against something at least resembling NBA talent. But Drummond was so thoroughly dominant, his size so wholly overwhelming, that one has to wonder if he really got anything out of this week.

Terrence Jones, Rockets
Jones used his time in Houston to make the case to his onlooking coach and general manager that he deserves more playing time and a larger role with the Rockets. Supporting Jones’ argument were his 16 points and seven rebounds per game, 36 percent shooting from beyond the arc and terrific defense in the paint and on the perimeter. He was aggressive, yet under control, assertive, but rarely forcing the issue. If his improved dribbling, face-up game and shooting prove to be more than just summer sizzle, Jones will be a valuable contributor to an already exciting Houston team.

Maurice Harkless, Magic
This final spot was a tough choice between Harkless and Jeremy Lamb of Oklahoma City, but Harkless takes the trophy because of the noticeable myriad improvements to his game. Last season, per MySynergySports.com, Harkless scored just .59 points per play as the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations. Look for that number to improve, as Harkless’ improved handles and strengthened frame -- as well as the Magic’s emphasis on putting him in these situations during this week -- have made him a much better operator off the bounce. Harkless was noticeably more comfortable as a ball handler this week, which bodes well for him and the Magic offense as a whole.

Surprises

Dwight Buycks, Thunder

Inevitably, every summer league sees one player who rises from obscurity to prominence. In Orlando, that player was Buycks. Bursting onto the scene with a 12-point, 13-assist performance in Game 1, Buycks was tremendous for Oklahoma City on both ends of the ball, running the pick-and-roll to perfection and hounding opposing ball handlers. He averaged 9.5 points, six assists and two steals per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor (albeit on an average of just six attempts), and his production did not go unnoticed: Buycks recently signed a deal with the Toronto Raptors.

Daniel Orton, Thunder

Not long ago, Orton was written off as yet another young, raw big man who, for some reason or another, never reached his full potential. Maybe he never will reach that potential, but he’s at least back on the right track after his performance this week. Orton, was both aggressive and active, dunking at nearly every opportunity and challenging shots both inside and out. The biggest concern for him is conditioning, as Orton struggled to sustain that high level of energy for very long and was visibly winded after six or seven minutes of play.

Ian Clark, Heat
Like many college shooting guards who find themselves undersized to play the position in the NBA, Clark had to shift over to point guard if he was to make his mark in the NBA. While he might have averaged just one assist per game, his attacking style on both offense and defense very much fits the Miami Heat mold of point guard. Clark was also one of the top scorers in Orlando, averaging 16 points per contest.

Disappointment

Michael Carter-Williams, 76ers
Nobody expected Carter-Williams to come in and dominate summer league; his current strengths and weaknesses as a player don’t lend themselves to such performances. At the same time, no one expected him to be one of the worst players in Orlando. Shooting a measly 27 percent from the floor, turning the ball over at an alarming rate and complaining to the refs after every no-call, Carter-Williams had a miserable week. Perhaps the one silver lining to be found in this grey cloud of inefficiency is that now the organization can pinpoint the exact areas in which they need to develop their young point guard.

The Andre Drummond experience

January, 26, 2013
1/26/13
12:43
AM ET
Haberstroh By Tom Haberstroh
ESPN.com
Archive
NAME OF PLAYER
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images
Ladies and gentlemen of Miami, meet Mr. Andre Drummond.

MIAMI – The first time I saw Andre Drummond in person, I did a double take.

Before a meaningless preseason game in October at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, the Detroit Pistons were gliding through their layup lines, warming up before a matchup against the defending champion Miami Heat.

It’s no stretch to say that Drummond dwarfed everyone in the building. He is listed at 6-foot-10 and 270 pounds, but the scary thing is that he’s probably not fully formed yet; he’s 19 years old. You couldn’t help but be struck by his enormity. He has tree trunks for legs, but when you witness him in layup lines, you immediately notice that he’s almost impossibly light on his toes.

To prove it, Drummond did something that made the Miami crowd recoil in shock.

The 270-pounder barreled toward the rim after a dribble from the left sideline, catapulted off the ground, swung the ball between his legs from one hand to the other and slammed the ball through the rim so hard that you could feel the rumble across Biscayne Bay.

The size of Kendrick Perkins. Between the legs. With ease.

That’s when I knew Drummond was special, and I wasn’t alone. It was about that time in preseason that Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank fully grasped what kind of talent Drummond could be in the NBA.

“In preseason, he opened our eyes a little bit, because he didn’t necessarily show that in Summer League,” Frank said on Friday. “He had some ‘wow’ moments over the summer, but he didn’t sustain anything. It was really in training camp when you really saw it.”

A back injury kept the man they call “The Big Penguin” mostly grounded until preseason rolled around. But it’s safe to say nothing’s holding him back now. Picked ninth in the 2012 draft, Drummond leads all rookies with a 23.0 player efficiency rating, averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks -- all in just 20 minutes per game. He’s a per-minute marvel among stat-heads, and a daily fixture on highlight reels.

On Friday night in his return to Miami, you saw Drummond’s promise early in the fourth quarter. He stripped the ball from Dwyane Wade, not once but twice. On back-to-back possessions. And then, he dribbled the length of the floor the other way for the finish on each occasion.

After the second pick-pocket, Drummond actually Euro-stepped around Ray Allen for the layup. Yes, seconds after stripping Wade, the nearly 300-pounder used Wade’s own signature scoring move on a fastbreak.

And it worked. Well, kind of. The way that particular play ended encapsulates the Andre Drummond experience. It didn’t end in a layup or a thunderous dunk, but a trip to the free throw line after Wade mauled him from behind.

The charity stripe is the one place on the court where Drummond looks human. After the pair of spectacular efforts, Drummond missed both of the ensuing free throws, dropping his free-throw percentage to a dreadful 40.9 percent on the season.

Steal, dunk, steal, missed freebies. It always seems to be three steps forward, one giant step back for Drummond. At age 19, that’s all you can really ask for.

“He guarded Wade as well as anyone,” Frank said after the game. “And I’m not saying that jokingly.”

There were plenty of ups for Drummond on Friday. He filled every category in the box score again, finishing with six points on three dunks, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 25 minutes. And if foolish plays were a statistic, he’d have a few of those as well.

But even now, he’s catching opposing veterans by surprise. At one point, Shane Battier thought he was LeBron James for a moment and curiously tried to dunk on Drummond on the baseline. It didn’t end well. Drummond met Battier at the rim and the rookie palmed the ball with his right hand in midair, ripping it down without using his off hand.

In a moment, Drummond made Battier look like 44, not 34.

“Yeah, I was surprised, I was like, ‘Oh, he looks like he’s gonna try to dunk it!’” Drummond said at his locker after the game. “I just jumped and got a hand on it.”

Of course, it wasn’t all “oohs” and “ahhs” for Drummond against the Heat. There were times when he tried to dribble around his defender and found nothing but trouble. Some missed rotations. But with a talent like that, you take the good with the bad.

“Andre had some good things he did,” Frank said. “And some things obviously that, you know, we’ll keep working on with him.”

The Pistons are still experimenting with Drummond. And it might dictate their playoff hopes. Now 16-27, they stand three and a half games outside the eighth seed, behind the reeling Boston Celtics. Drummond’s development next to fellow talented big man Greg Monroe, who registered 31 points and 12 rebounds on Friday, remains one of the biggest wild cards in the league.

While Frank recognizes the duo's potential, he’s fully aware that they need to endure the inevitable growing pains. On the season, the Drummond-Monroe tandem has seen the court an average of 6.5 minutes per game, but that’s up to 8.5 minutes in the month of January heading into Friday’s game. And it’s getting positive results. In the 85 minutes this month with those two on the floor, the Pistons have outscored opponents by 23 points. So far, so good.

But in a league that increasingly embraces small-ball, Frank has a dilemma on his hands. On Friday, he called it “a game of chicken.” Should he play Drummond-Monroe together and risk getting beat by quicker players? The Pistons played the Heat even point-for-point when the two played together, but lost by 15 in the few minutes that Charlie Villanueva, not Monroe, played alongside Drummond.

“He’s still learning, and he’s going to be in a bunch of situations, like all our players, but for him it’s all new,” Frank said. “There are going to be times that because of a lack of experience, not for a lack of effort, but for a lack of experience ... and then it’s really about finding out the best combinations that he can play with, and that we can be most effective with. And that’s what we’re still exploring.”

All in all, Frank says he couldn’t be happier with Drummond’s progression as a rookie. But don’t expect Frank to give him the starting gig anytime soon. Little steps.

“I’ll tell you what, (Drummond) went from a guy who didn’t understand screening at all, to now becoming arguably our best screener,” Frank said. “You see the progress made and you love his effort, his spirit, his makeup. If he continues to maintain that type of approach, then he has really good things in front of him.”

You won’t find Drummond campaigning for a starting gig.

"Lawrence knows what he’s doing,” Drummond said. “He knows when to put me into the game to get the best out of me. So however many minutes he plays me, he knows he’ll get 100 percent.”

Based on age and draft position, Drummond may be the most impressive rookie of his class. At 19, the double takes seem to have only just begun.

Wednesday Bullets

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
5:22
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • From Pablo S. Torre's ESPN The Magazine feature on Kyrie Irving, what every eager young basketball player should have in the drawers of his nightstand: pork rinds and Sour Patch Kids.
  • At BallerBall, an expanded visual of Russell Westbrook's legs at a 105-degree angle as he launched Oklahoma City's final field goal attempt -- the most controversial shot of Christmas.
  • Royce Young of Daily Thunder tackles the prickly question of Kendrick Perkins' usefulness and wonders why Kevin Martin and not Thabo Sefolosha was on the floor for a crucial defensive possession in the game's closing seconds that resulted in an easy bucket for Chris Bosh.
  • A video roundup of the notable Christmas Day commercial spots featuring big-name NBA players.
  • How many minutes should an NBA coach play a raw, young player? That's one of the most contentious debates in the NBA, and it's one that can drive a wedge between a head coach and management, a fan base and its team, young guys and oldsters in a locker room. Andre Drummond has put up solid numbers per minute in Detroit, but he's not seeing all that many minutes.
  • Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting implores Raymond Felton, who has only seven functional fingers, to take a night off: "At last, we may have found the injury threshold at which Raymond achieves self awareness. Yes, Ray. Take the night off. Take a couple if you have to. I don't know why having sore, lifeless hands emboldens Felton to attempt MORE feats of dexterity (now attempting 19 shots per game in December after 14.2 per game in November), but it's really not helping matters."
  • Andrew Han of ClipperBlog factored the decision-making judgment of Caron Butler: "Midway through the third quarter, on a secondary break, Caron Butler pulled up for a wide-open 3-pointer. Open as far as the eye can see. So open, in fact, that when he elevated, Iguodala (who was 10 feet away) simply turned around to seek out the impending rebound. But Butler didn’t shoot it. He dished it to an equally wide-open Willie Green for a corner-3, who promptly drained it. I mention it because I wondered why Butler passed on his shot; he’s been an effective 3-point shooter this season. And so I checked the stats: Caron Butler: 37.8% 3PT% from above-the-break-3. Willie Green: 48.3% 3PT% from the corner-3. They were similarly wide open, but Butler understood that the corner-3 is a higher percentage shot, and a much higher one for Willie Green. You play the hand you’re dealt. And while, to others, it seems like you’re on a hot streak, it’s all about counting the odds."
  • Jamal Crawford with a move Billy Crystal calls "Shabbat Shalom" ... even on a Tuesday night.
  • Keith Smart cast his lot with DeMarcus Cousins last season, a gambit that's become a lot more dicey for the Kings' head coach in his second season with the organization.
  • Warriors rookie Draymond Green can't shoot, lacks a natural position even by the more fluid definitions of today's NBA and is putting up some ugly numbers. So how come the Warriors are inordinately better when he's on the floor?
  • Something to contemplate as the Hornets get ready for the return of Eric Gordon -- he's a sturdy, efficient defender.
  • The Washington Wizards don't do much of anything right, but as Jordan Khan of Bullets Forever illustrates, they sort of know how to press.
  • Kendall Marshall celebrates the miracle of touchpads.

A season in the shadow

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
2:10
PM ET
Verrier By Justin Verrier
ESPN.com
Archive

Getty Images, US Presswire
Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond could be the final NBA draft lottery picks in Jim Calhoun's reign.


It’s the smile that does it.

Every memorable player comes to have a particularly noteworthy physical trait, some type of look or hairstyle or facial feature that embodies who they are to us on the court, the way a person’s hat tips you off in "Guess Who."

Kobe Bryant’s jutting bottom lip and icy glare are the manifestations of his look-at-me intensity. LeBron James’ burly biceps tell you everything about his freakish, natural athleticism. The precision with which Ray Allen shaves his head every day. The mere silhouette of an in-flight Michael Jordan. In a social-media-strung-together world, where information is often parsed down to its most molecular level, something as novel as a few unshaven hairs in the center of your brow could wind up serving as your identifier forever, a traffic cone for a fan’s however-long journey through the league.

For Kemba Walker, it’s his smile. That big ole Cheshire Cat grin that conveys the confidence and boyish charm that define his personality and game.

There weren’t many happy moments for Walker as he began his career on the worst team in NBA history, but his gleeful look might as well been plastered at midcourt in Storrs, Conn., and on the Connecticut Huskies’ American flag blue pantaloons after Walker led the team to the 2011 NCAA championship. Surrounded by a cavalcade of fresh faces, Walker was the one tugging at the marionette strings throughout the Huskies’ up-and-down 2010-11 season, and he was ultimately the one carrying UConn across the finish line to cap off its unparalleled postseason run, fostering Jeremy Lamb’s growth from an unknown out of Norcross, Ga., to a potential lottery pick along the way.

Walker was a leader, in every sense. Even Jim Calhoun, the team’s Hall of Fame head coach, often deferred to the point guard’s judgment.

Yet, as Walker darted off to the professional ranks, the team actually appeared in better shape, talent-wise, as it prepared its title defense. The Huskies returned five of their top six players and welcomed uber-prospect Andre Drummond, the most celebrated recruiting get in Calhoun’s 26-year reign, into the fold. The first title repeat since Florida in 2006 and 2007 was a possibility. All they needed was someone to take the lead.

The Incumbent and The Newcomer were the two most likely candidates.

The Incumbent

Lamb is also defined by his distinguishable look. Only, the image isn’t all that flattering.

The sophomore swingman often appears like he may fall asleep at any moment, his eyes almost glazed over like he’s sitting in the back of a high school mathematics class and his voice slowly rolling out of his mouth in a crackly baritone. His game is just as laid-back, as his lanky, 6-foot-5, 179-pound frame smoothly glides across the hardwood like he’s on ice. And instead of charging at the basket like Walker, Lamb prefers to spot up from midrange or toss up a near-automatic floater before entering the circle.

It’s that lack of edge and aggression -- particularly when compared to the energetic, attacking point guards he was paired with in the backcourt for his two college seasons -- that has led to doubts. And while some assume passivity based solely on his sleepy demeanor, Lamb does have a tendency to fade into the background, a habit particularly harmful on a college team in desperate need of direction.

An efficient scorer basically from the get-go, Lamb’s emergence in 2010-11 as a capable No. 2 option ultimately proved to be the catalyst for the Huskies’ 11-for-11 tournament(s) run. But his opportunities were almost always created by Walker, whether the ball came off the point guard’s hands or not.

Lamb, despite dominating the ball for Team USA’s U19 team last summer, continued to pick his spots as a sophomore, but with erratic, turnover-prone point guards and no other established offensive option amid a surplus of talent, he was forced to try to on Walker’s uncomfortable role far too often. Although he shot 60 percent on 2-point attempts, Lamb, who had one of the heaviest minutes loads in the NCAA, jacked up almost as many 3s (at a 33.6 percent rate), mostly because he had to.

The complementary role he’s more comfortable in is likely what he’ll be asked to do in the pros, which means he’s probably better off in the long run. But the 20-year-old seems lost when he attempts to be more than that. As he told our Chad Ford in a pre-draft video piece: “My freshman year, the team, we were really like brothers. We did everything together. We just really wanted it, and when times got hard, we stuck together. My second year, we wasn’t as close. … We could’ve had a much better year.”

The Newcomer

Drummond is a direct product of the rise of UConn basketball. A Middletown, Conn., native born six years into Calhoun’s tenure and three after the program’s “Dream Season” of 1989-90, the center grew up in a world where his hometown team was already a national powerhouse. And as the gangly boy blossomed into a 6-11 powerhouse with Amare Stoudemire-like athleticism, the buzz began to build in Connecticut, particularly when word spread that he longed to one day attend the state university.

Even as a high school freshman, it was clear there was something special. I marveled while taking his agate lines from coaches for The Hartford Courant, and in the one game I saw Drummond play during his lone year at Capital Prep in Hartford, he effortlessly coasted to a 20-point, 20-rebound performance; given the height discrepancy, stepping on an opponent’s while in midair was a legitimate concern.

But, as other first-person testimonials of his early days have noted recently, not much has changed. After reluctantly enrolling at UConn in the late summer, Drummond continued to coast on his gifts, and as a result, he was bullied around by shorter, sturdier players -- much in the same way DeJuan Blair used to dominate Hasheem Thabeet -- gave little effort on the boards, and rarely scored if the ball wasn’t already in the air and near the rim. The team gave him every chance to succeed, playing through him in the back half of the season, but his wild turnarounds and clunky post moves only brought more screams and sighs of exasperation out of Calhoun.

(No moment crystallizes his college career more than this video. After missing a foul line jam in a preseason slam dunk contest, Drummond quickly gathers himself … and then casually throws down a between-the-legs dunk off the bounce. He would, of course, lose the competition.)

Once viewed as a legitimate threat to Anthony Davis’ hold on the top spot, Drummond’s disappointing lone college season has now sent his draft hopes tumbling down big boards. But it could actually be for the best. Earlier this season, while reminiscing with Thabeet soon after the former UConn center was traded to his third team in three years, he explained how surprised he was to be drafted No. 2 overall in 2009 and shook his head in disappointment while discussing the burden of expectations.

Drummond’s upside is far higher than Thabeet’s -- unlike Drummond, Thabeet was a stiff athlete who showed virtually no aptitude for scoring despite being the tallest player on the court for three years -- but he may benefit from a lower draft position. An 18-year-old who struggled to stay away from the snacks at South dining hall and whose voice still crackles, Drummond needs a more-structured, patient environment more than most (as our Beckley Mason noted earlier this week), and the teams that can provide it are most likely to be found the farther he falls. (The Rockets and post-move savant Kevin McHale would seem to be a particularly good match.) Although he didn’t progress as expected, Drummond did benefit greatly from a year of discipline, as evidenced by the fact that his greatest skill thus far is a trademark of UConn big men: blocking shots and defending without fouling.

Like Lamb, the disappointments in college could be rectified in a professional setting.

The History

Before John Calipari’s rash of one-and-doners began consuming draft boards, UConn was at one point widely regarded as the top pro-producing college outfit. The Huskies have yet to produce a No. 1 overall pick, but they became the first school to have two picks selected in the top three (Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, in 2004) and the first to have five players selected in a single draft, in 2006. Ray Allen, Caron Butler and Richard Hamilton all made All-Star teams. And, farther back, Donyell Marshall, Kevin Ollie and Clifford Robinson all had long careers.

But its reputation has faltered some as time has gone on. Allen, Butler and Hamilton are all nearing the end of their careers. Gordon and Charlie Villanueva have tapered off significantly after moderately promising starts to their careers. Of the Huskies’ ’06 draftees, only one, Rudy Gay, remains. And their most recent exports from its last Final Four trips -- Thabeet, Walker and A.J. Price -- haven’t fared much better.

A once-proud tradition is slowly looking like a bit of a red herring.

The End?

The draft stocks of Lamb and Drummond have suffered as a result of UConn’s far-from-stellar 2011-12 season, more so in the case of the latter, as the freshman center now must fend off inquiries about his motor and desire for the game on a daily basis. But both are in better shape than the program they leave behind. With a postseason ban forthcoming, the team experienced major defections after its title hopes torpedoed into a first-round exit in the 2012 NCAA tournament. And with the 70-year-old Calhoun’s status year-to-year because of health scares that grow more concerning each season, the program is at a crossroads, particularly when it comes to recruiting.

With only one player currently on next year’s draft radar (DeAndre Daniels, No. 82 on Ford’s 2013 Big Board) and no impact imports on the horizon, it’s possible, a cynic might pontificate, that Lamb and Drummond could be the Huskies’ last two first-round picks -- in the Calhoun era or maybe ever.

Unlike most other high-profile programs, UConn’s success is so tightly tethered to its head coach. The team wasn’t much before Calhoun’s arrival, and even though he’ll leave it with at least three national titles in hand, the lure to the cow town of Storrs has always been the man in charge and his ability to help players become legitimate draft prospects. If his successor isn’t able to quickly pick up where he left off, the doomsday scenario isn’t out of the question.

Twenty-two years after Calhoun’s first draft pick, Clifford Robinson, turned a second-round selection into a 17-year career, a run of 24 draftees could end with Lamb, perhaps the next in a line of successful wings, or Drummond, the homegrown top recruit who could be the coach’s greatest achievement or his biggest letdown.

Drafting a post presence ideal for Cavaliers

June, 26, 2012
6/26/12
10:59
PM ET
By Ryan Feldman, ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
The Cleveland Cavaliers found their franchise point guard, Kyrie Irving, in the 2011 NBA Draft. Here are some areas the Cavaliers might look to bolster through their picks in this year's draft.

OVERALL OFFENSE
The Cavaliers were the second-worst shooting team in the NBA this season at 42 percent from the field. Only the Charlotte Bobcats had a lower field-goal percentage. The Cavs scored just 92.3 points per game, the sixth-fewest in the league.

POST-UP OFFENSE
Cleveland was the most inefficient post-up team in the NBA this season. The Cavaliers averaged just 0.69 points per post-up play, which ranked last.

The Cavaliers shot 36 percent on post-up plays, ahead of only the Milwaukee Bucks, and scored just 346 points from the post, which ranked third-worst in the NBA.

DEFENSE AROUND THE BASKET
The Brooklyn Nets were the only team that recorded fewer blocked shots per game this season than the Cavaliers. The Nets, Bobcats and Sacramento Kings were the only teams that allowed a higher field-goal percentage than the Cavs.

The Cavs also allowed the sixth-most points in the paint and fifth-most second-chance points, so adding some size and a defensive force down low could be a priority for Cleveland.

TOP DRAFT TARGETS
Based on their statistical weaknesses, the perfect scenario for the Cavaliers would be to draft a player at No. 4 who could be a defensive presence down low and a post-up threat on the offensive end.

A 7-footer who can improve the team’s shot-blocking, keep teams from scoring around the basket, and open up the Cavs offense would be ideal. But which players would fit that mold once Anthony Davis is off the board?

After Davis, the top big men prospects include Kansas’s Thomas Robinson, Connecticut’s Andre Drummond, Illinois’s Meyers Leonard, and North Carolina’s John Henson and Tyler Zeller.

Of those players, Leonard ranks as the most-efficient post-up player. He averaged 1.05 points per post-up play and shot 53 percent on shots in the post. Virginia’s Mike Scott is the only draft prospect who was more efficient in the post this season.

Robinson, Drummond, Henson and Zeller all ranked outside the top 175 of the 488 players with at least 50 post-up plays this season. Not a single draft prospect had fewer points per post-up play than Drummond, who ranked 474th.

Defensively, no draft prospect ranks better than Henson. Henson allowed the third-fewest points per play (0.62) in the nation last year (min. 200 plays).

Robinson ranked 11th and Drummond 32nd in that group; at the other end, Leonard, the tallest and most-efficient post player of the bunch, ranked 251st.

Henson and Drummond are the best defensive prospects in terms of protecting the rim.

They each ranked in the top 15 in the country in blocked shots; Leonard, Zeller and Robinson all ranked outside of the top 50.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Get the information you need to be ready for the draft and follow the action Thursday night on Twitter @ESPNStatsInfo.

Andre Drummond, blank slate

June, 26, 2012
6/26/12
4:46
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
Archive
Andre Drummond, Michael Jordan
Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT
Andre Drummond worked out for Michael Jordan and the Bobcats, who have the second overall pick, but could fall as far as the ninth pick.

On the NBA Today Podcast, NBA Draft Insider Chad Ford and high school recruiting analyst Dave Telep discuss one of the most controversial talents in the 2012 Draft: Andre Drummond.

If you haven't seen Drummond, all 6-foot-11 and 280 pounds of him, in action, prepare to be confused. One moment he'll display the exceptional lateral quickness, soft hands and explosive leaping that suggest NBA stardom; the next, he's bricking a free throw straight off the backboard.

Drummond's physical tools make him a potential All-Star, but he's a work in progress. Which means to progress further -- something he absolutely must do to make an impact as a pro -- he'll need to do a lot of work. Whether that happens, whether he can capitalize on his prodigious physical ability, may depend largely on who drafts him.

Ford and Telep explain:
DAVE TELEP: There’s no question that that Andre Drummond is, in my mind, all things being equal, should be the number 2 pick in this draft.

I guarantee you he’s going to go somebody’s camp and there’s not going to be anyone on the roster who looks like him or moves like him. Does he want to be Andre Drummond the rotation player, or want to be Andre Drummond the guy who challenges for a max contract someday?

Where he’s going to fall on that continuum? I don’t think that you can possibly answer that question right now. It is truly up to him.

CHAD FORD: [Drummond] -- this isn’t a question of his character, by the way -- he doesn’t have a clue what it takes to be a great NBA player. He doesn’t understand the work that’s got to be put in, how hard it is, all the obstacles and challenges he’s going to face. He doesn’t have a clue.

That’s not a knock on him, by the way -- you could say the same thing about LeBron James. Now that he’s won the title, you’re hearing LeBron talk about things he didn’t know, things that he wasn’t doing, that he started doing when he realized he was going to have to put in more effort.

He’s been so great for so long, but to be a great NBA player requires hard work, it’s not just about being big or athletic, and I just don’t think [Drummond] gets that yet, but I’m not saying he won’t get it. I think he very well could.

TELEP: You think about when Randy Moss was drafted by the Vikings, and Chris Carter takes him under his wing. Andre Drummond is very much going to need someone to do that for him. Maybe Juwan Howard gets his 20th season serving as a mentor to Andre Drummond. Because if he’s going to be successful and max out his ability, he’s going to need someone to walk this journey with him a little bit.

If you put Andre Drummond with the Spurs -- and [I'm] just throwing them out because of the culture -- you put Andre Drummond with guys who have an approach to their job, that conduct themselves in that manner at an elite level, you’re giving him a final chance because he’s able to reset his foundation a little bit. If he goes to a culture of not much structure and a lot of flexibility, it could be trouble for him.

FORD: That’s a great point, and unfortunately, most of those teams drafting at the top of the lottery are drafting at the top of the lottery because they don’t have the right mentors and often times the right systems in place. And if he goes to the Bobcats, I’m not nearly as bullish on him as I would even going to the Wizards where Nene and Emeka Okafor are there as veteran guys who can help him understand what it takes to be an NBA pro.

Despite his rare talent, Ford has Drummond dropping all the way to the Golden State Warriors at No. 7 in his latest mock draft (Insider), up from a previous projection that Drummond him going ninth to the Pistons.

It's worth remembering that, though he may have the most impressive physical tools, Drummond is the second youngest player in the draft. The natural talent is there, but Ford and Telep suggest that his success will depend on the nurture he gets from whoever drafts him. In that sense, the team that eventually selects the young big man won't be betting on Drummond so much as its own player development staff and resources.

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