#4: Andre Drummond
Draft placement: 9
College: University of Connecticut
NBA team: Detroit Pistons
Drummond was the most interesting case entering the 2012 draft. He possessed all the physical tools an NBA team could ask for, but his attitude was in question. How seriously was he taking basketball? After a disappointing season at UConn that saw the Huskies exit in the first round of the NCAA tournament, general managers noticed that their favorite physical freak had already been out-worked by lesser players on his own collegiate squad. It’s difficult to scream, “NBA BUST POTENTIAL!” louder than that.
But the Pistons gambled on him at #9 (if you can call Drummond a gamble that late) and it paid off big time. Like Sullinger, Drummond dealt with lower back problems during his rookie campaign. Unlike Sullinger, that didn’t stop him from impressing on the court. He found some chemistry in tandem with Pistons big man Greg Monroe to become half of the NBA’s most promising frontcourt duo. Despite nagging injuries, Andre Drummond finished 4th in NBA Rookie of the Year voting.
This season, he has really come into his own. Averaging a nightly double-double (12.1 points, 11.9 rebounds), Drummond looks like a less mechanical version of a young Dwight Howard. That’s no platitude; the similarities are startling (some more than others—free throw percentage…). He is one of the few 2012-2013 rookies that I will confidently label the future of their franchise. The others lie in the next few pages.
2013-2014 Highlight game: 16 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks vs. the Golden State Warriors