UConn Basketball

with Kevin Duffy

The Curious Case of Andre Drummond

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A year ago today, Andre Drummond was a mystery, a long, muscle-bound 6-foot-11 package of basketball potential. He was hidden away in the barren southeast corner of Connecticut — nothing but trees and casinos there — and sheltered from the whirlwind of media hype that often sucks in the nation’s top prospects.

Andre Drummond (AP)

But when he was on display at national AAU events, he never disappointed. Last July, Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis wrote “I’d go so far as to say he’s the best big man I’ve seen come out of high school basketball since Greg Oden.”

Fastforward a year and Drumond — fully exposed and thrust into the national spotlight at UConn — is still an unknown. No, he wasn’t the best college big man since Greg Oden (Anthony Davis, the surefire No. 1 pick, was), but there’s still enough intrigue to merit the second overall pick.

The big question: Can Charlotte — a disaster of a franchise fresh off the most atrocious season in league history — afford to take the risk?

I recently spoke with one NBA Scout and NBADraft.Net’s Aran Smith about Drummond’s draft stock. Here is the case for and against Andre Drummond to the Bobcats.

*Note: The scout, who requested anonymity, did not comment on Charlotte’s specific situation at No. 2, but instead addressed Drummond’s skill set.

The Bobcats should take Drummond because…

NBADraft.Net: “I don’t think there is another potential franchise player in the draft (besides Davis). Thomas Robinson doesn’t have the upside, to me. We’ll see if he measures out at 6-foot-10. If he does, that could change things. And with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, I think he has a high baseline, but his ceiling isn’t particularly high. I think he’ll be like a Shane Battier, although he can’t shoot it as well as Shane Battier…Drummond has a chance (to be a franchise player), but if he goes to Charlotte, his chances go down.”

“I went to (an AAU tournament) this past weekend in Oakland and I was reminded of Drummond. Just watching the big men that are considered the next guys — Jahlil Okafor and Dakari Jackson — and granted they’re sophomores becoming juniors, but it’s night and day having watched Drummond in AAU settings. Just how fluid, how quick, how big and strong he is. There’s nobody on the high school level who projects the way he did and he does.”

NBA Scout: “You look at his ability to run the floor and play above the rim, his natural physical attributes, there just aren’t many players that fit his mold, including guys in the league right now. Skill-wise, he’s a way from being (NBA ready), but he has some good instincts, watching him pass the ball as a high schooler, not as much in college…His release is low and inconsistent; his mechanics need to be fixed. These are things you can improve on to a certain extent, although you’d hope that at 18 years old, he’d be further along.”

The Bobcats should pass on Drummond because…

NBADraft.Net: “You’re your own worst enemy. You need structure when you have an organization that is really struggling. He’s the kind of player that is not going to blossom in that environment, therefore you’re better off with a more focused, a guy who is not needing structure and has that built in, a guy who is a little more organized and a little more ready…You could say he’s not a self-starter. He needs somebody who’s on him and is milking the most out of him…I would say someone like Harrison Barnes would be better (for Charlotte). Thomas Robinson is definitely going to be considered with that pick, too.”

NBA Scout: “You wonder if he can be mature enough and disciplined enough to reach his ceiling. Being a pro, you need to manage your time well, not get caught up in the distractions that may come up. As I said, he’s as gifted physically, athletically as anyone, but he can’t skate by on just ability — at least he can’t develop into a star in this league that way. People have questions about his work ethic and his passion…the team that drafts him needs to know those answers.”

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