Andre Drummond is a Laker: How does this impact the Lakers title hopes and rotation

The Los Angeles Lakers and Andre Drummond have agreed to a deal for the remainder of the 2021 season.

Drummond, who was an impending free agent, agreed to a buyout with the Cavaliers on March 26 for the remainder of his $27.9 million salary for 2020-21.

Drummond spent Friday and Saturday meeting with the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, Clippers and Hornets and was strongly considering the Celtics before ultimately deciding to join the Lakers Saturday evening.

The 27-year-old joins a big man rotation of Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, and Markieff Morris. Drummond will likely replace Gasol in the starting lineup, moving the 36-year-old former defensive player of the year to the bench, where he is expected to split the backup minutes with Harrell, depending on the matchup.

The center position, which had already been crowded, just added another guy to the rotation who expects to play 25+ minutes a night. But there just is not enough minutes to go around at the position to ensure each big stays happy. Vogel and to a lesser extent, LeBron will have to manage some large men and large personalities as the season progresses.

Drummond is one of the most intriguing cases to hit the buyout market in some time. He averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in just 28.9 minutes per game with Cleveland this year, right in line with his career numbers.

But Drummond is the exact reason advanced stats are the way we judge who is good, and who is overrated. If you simply look at the box score, you would think Drummond is a top 3 center in the league. But look a little further and you will find a player far from the initial perception.

His efficiency is as bad as it gets. Of the 20 players with at least 100 post-ups this year, Drummond ranks only ahead of Russell Westbrook ( a player 6 inches shorter than him) in efficiency at 0.816 points per possession. For context, LeBron James and Anthony Davis rank fifth and sixth, respectively. Drummond ranks 29th out of 32 players with at least 50 put-back attempts in PPP and 54th out of 59th in PPP on plays off of cuts.

Overall, he’s shooting a career-worst 48.4 percent on 2-pointers. Add in his 59.7 percent free-throw shooting — the second-best percentage of his career, interestingly — and his 50.0 true shooting percentage is far below league average (57.1 percent). That’s alarming for a center whose average shot distance is 3.7 feet, per Basketball Reference.

This isn’t some nerd analysis from me either. If you simply watch Drummond for more than 5 minutes, you can see why he is so inefficient.

He often takes out-of-control floaters and hooks out of the post and goes isolation even from the perimeter. He loves using spin moves and drop steps on the block to get to a reverse. Not sure why a seven footer needs to do a reverse but sure. His favorite move this year has been a step through from the perimeter to an extended finish. The problem is they seem to rarely go in.

Quite simply, few players in the NBA take as many bad shots as he does.

His calling card isn’t defense either. He has been fairly uninterested and slow-footed as a pick-and-roll defender this year. I suppose adding him to the best defensive team in the league can help him buy into that end of the floor, but make no mistakes, he isn’t a willing defender.

While he grabs more rebounds than just about anyone in the league, he doesn’t fight for position well on either end and gets by somewhat on his size, strength and bounce. What often hurts his shooting efficiency is when he attacks the offensive glass, he puts up multiple misses that pad his rebounding numbers, but still result in an empty possession.

This all sounds so negative but the move makes some sense for the Lakers.

When used in a more limited role, Drummond’s talent and physicality can still be impactful. He is still a 7-footer with agility and power who can dominate above the rim, which is an element the Lakers have lacked this season.

The bet the Lakers are making is that he can buy into a more limited role and not be as wasteful on offense. The blue print is there. All Drummond has to do is look at Montrezl Harrell is doing right now. Set hard screens and grab offensive rebounds. Those are the only touches he needs.

Think of the role JaVale McGee had a year ago, that is what the Lakers need Drummond to do.

Whether Drummond can provide a comparable impact to what Howard and McGee brought last year, or what Gasol and Harrell have done this season, remains to be seen.

But IF Drummond can buy in and understand his limited role, the payoff could be a championship. If he doesn’t buy in, simply remove him from the rotation.

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