Andre Drummond owners, of which I am one in a keeper/dynasty league, live star-crossed lives, an existence that presented itself in a such a painful, graphic fashion on Wednesday night that I had several Drummond loyalists emailing me as if they were planning some sort of Fantasy basketball junta to overthrow his status upon their respective teams.
My deepest apologies for showing this, yet in order to heal, sometimes we must revisit the past. On most nights, a 17-point, 11-rebound effort from Drummond is enough to satisfy our appetite, yet Wednesday….oh, Wednesday. Oh. My. Goodness. Wednesday. Andre Drummond missed 23 free throws, setting an NBA record for brickery. He missed 23 freaking free throws. In just 23 minutes of work, Drummond missed more free throws than Steph Curry has missed the whole damn season. He tallied 37 Fantasy points on Wednesday, yet left so many points on the board that Drummond owners had to feel as if the waiter snatched away their plate while in the middle of the main course. His Game Score (courtesy of our pals at basketball-reference.com) was 11.4, which made him the 61st most effective player on Wednesday night.
During the middle of Drummond’s bid to provide Joel Osteen a new, open-aired church in Downtown Houston, I tweeted the following:
..which resulted in a brief squeamish (oops, Sarah Palin moment) skirmish online about Drummond’s value. He’s All-Star worthy with his 17.5 points, 15.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, Drummond self-destructs himself with a 35.5 free throw percentage that sinks his Fantasy worth. A double-double machine that has recorded nine such efforts in his last 11 outings prior to Thursday’s game versus the Pelicans, Drummond falls into the land of the damned: a player who can kill you in one category; and when it comes to killing your team, Drummond is an elite sniper who doesn’t need a second shot to finish the deal.
In standard leagues in which free throws are a category, Drummond is the 240th best player. That’s not a typo. 240, as in stuck between 239 and 241. If you don’t buy the devastation that 35.5 percent mark does for Drummond’s value, Clippers big man and fellow brother in free throw ineptitude DeAndre Jordan is ranked 149th overall. Jordan’s see-ball, dunk-ball mindset saves him from residing in Drummond’s neighborhood, as his 71.9 percent mark from the field offers a saving grace. Rockets center Dwight Howard, ranked third in rebounding between Drummond and Jordan is ranked 87th overall, and his 55.4 percent free throw accuracy has hampered his value (well, that and the 6.7 shots per game he gets these days).
Those of extensive height and rebounding prowess are not alone. Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins averages 20.9 points, which is hollowed by the fact he offers little else with his 3.9 rebounds and near non-existent defensive numbers. We don’t have to delve too much into the reasons behind Kobe Bryant’s 34.5 percent field goal percentage, which is also further hulled out by his “I don’t give a damn, just give me another chance to put up another shot that hits the front of the rim” style of defense. Trey Burke’s failure to do just one job (assists, because that’s what we ask of our point guards) led to him being benched for Raul Neto despite a recent scoring surge that has put him on the outer edge of ownership for those in need of someone with PG eligibility.
Category killers, especially those who produce at a high end, leave owners in the awkward state of whether to ride out the storm that comes when said category is exposed or trading for near-equal value (because you’re not getting even production) in order to improve the status at the category in question. I honestly couldn’t trade Drummond in a one-year league; only nine other players (eight big men and Kings PG Rajon Rondo) in the Association are averaging a nightly double-double, and chances are slim about getting a better free throw shooter among this small group. If you are looking to move, perhaps a Drummond for Kevin Love (15.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and a 79.9 percent FT percentage) is a start, although if I’m a Love owner pondering this move, I’d certainly want someone else (fast-rising Suns guard Devin Booker, perhaps?) that will at least make up for the cold front that arrives in the form of Drummond’s shooting from the stripe.
Which begs the question: who would you want the rest of the season? Would you be fine with Drummond’s all-around numbers knowing the albatross of his free throw shooting will drag you down most nights or the prospects of Love taking a bigger role in the Cavaliers’ offense paired up with Booker emerging as a Top-60 Fantasy pick in next season’s draft? I’m still leaning toward keeping Drummond, but this faux trade offer is enough to make one ponder. Plug in the name of Jordan or Howard, and you’d still be asking the same question.
Category-killers live among us in all Fantasy sports. As baseball drafts/auctions begin to help us thaw out, owners will have to ask if the power of a Chris Davis or Billy Hamilton’s speed is worth having despite the lack of production each offers outside the ability to deposit 40-45 pitches over the stands or steal 60 bases with a .295 OBP. It comes down the threshold of pain for an individual owner.
Drummond is having an outstanding season, yet let’s not get it twisted. This isn’t a vintage Shaquille O’Neal season, in which the numbers were so overwhelming that it mattered a whit about his poor free throw numbers to anyone lucky enough to grab the first overall pick during the Big Aristotle’s peak. This column isn’t happening if Drummond was putting up 24-26 points per game and added a couple of rebounds to his nighty stat line.
That’s where the problem lies with me and Drummond’s numbers. You can’t tell me no one in the Pistons organization hasn’t sat their centerpiece down and told him the benefits that would come if he spent the summer improving his free throw accuracy. We’re not talking Calvin Murphy or Mark Price; if Drummond was able to get his percentage to Howard’s numbers, you’d be looking at someone averaging around 20-22 points per game. He’s a Fantasy monster if he shot 70 percent from the stripe. Yet, Drummond chooses to stay with the status quo, which is why I can’t call him an elite center. Elite centers don’t get traded, Fantasy or otherwise.
In the meantime, we will hope the fact the Pistons still won despite the Rockets’ attempt to Assault Andre will deter other teams from exposing us Drummond owners from another front seat to historic feats of forgettable proportions.