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Andre Drummond, Cavs

Editorials

Andre Drummond could be great for the Cleveland Cavaliers

Andre Drummond could be great for the Cleveland Cavaliers

Andre Drummond is off to a rough start with the Cleveland Cavaliers. At the same time, from a pure basketball standpoint, Drummond is perfect for the Cavs.

The Cavs acquired Drummond from the Detroit Pistons before this season’s NBA trade deadline for Brandon Knight, John Henson, and the less favorable of Cleveland and the Golden State Warriors’ 2023 second-round picks.

The center appeared in eight games for the Cavs before the NBA hiatus. Assessing an NBA player after eight games with a new team is like assessing a college from top to bottom after a mere visit. You’re going to identify the superficial positives and negatives but struggle to forecast the in-between and how your commitment will pan out. Same logic with Drummond and the Cavs.

The “rough” part of the center’s early days in Cleveland refer to some off-the-court tweets and chatter. Andre Drummond took to Twitter after being traded to Cleveland to express his shock and disappointment in the Pistons, who he spent his entire career with prior to the trade.

Furthermore, there were reports that he was unhappy in Cleveland shortly after the trade, though Drummond denied such a notion.

In a Tuesday appearance on the “Le Batard & Friends — STUpodity” podcast, Drummond said he’ll “definitely” be back in Cleveland next season, which implies he’ll opt into his $28.8 million player option for the 2020-21 NBA season. One way or another, the two parties are going to try to right the ship and/or build a sustainable relationship moving forward.

Let’s consider what general manager Koby Altman gave up for the All-Star big man. Knight was a veteran reserve behind the Cavs’ previous two lottery selections, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland; Henson, a reserve for the Cavs prior to the trade, is a free agent after this season; the 2023 second rounder is the most enticing prospect they surrendered in this trade.

They gave up the aforementioned assets for one of the best centers in the NBA.

Andre Drummond is a superb inside player. He finishes relentlessly inside, hits the defensive and offensive boards at considerable rates, and is a respectable rim protector. Across his eight seasons in the NBA, Drummond has averaged 14.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.

Yes, he’s a career 46.1 percent free throw shooter which is, well, awful. That said, he’s never been a perimeter player and has at least made an effort to improve from the charity stripe in years past (Drummond shot 57.5 percent from the free throw line this season, whereas he shot 38.6 percent from the free throw line in the 2016-17 season).

Drummond’s skill set bodes well in head coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s offense.

The heart and soul of the Cavs’ future is their young guards. Sexton has come along nicely in his two years on the scene. This season the Alabama product averaged 20.8 points per game while shooting 38.0 percent from beyond the arc. He shot efficiently from distance and showed glimpses of being a reliable, go-to scorer.

Garland didn’t have a stupendous rookie season, if you will, averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists per game on a team that finished 15th in the Eastern Conference. That said, he’s quick and has the potential to be a lead scorer and an elite shooter.

Sexton and Garland started in the same backcourt and spent a lot of time on the floor together, which they’ll continue to do in the future. When you have a couple speedy guards running around the halfcourt, you want specific skill sets around them, one being a big man who’s money inside; the Cavs have that in Drummond.

Meanwhile, Cedi Osman is a gritty two-way player who’s a reliable outside shooter, and Larry Nance Jr. is a physical specimen who’s respectable from distance. The elephant in the room is Kevin Love, a 31-year-old big man with three seasons remaining on a four-year, $120 million extension.

According to Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, the Cavs see “plenty of value” in keeping Love. If they do as such Love doesn’t get in Drummond’s way, as he’s more so accustomed to stretching the floor and occasionally playing in the post. Drummond doesn’t do much of either.

The Cavs, like most rebuilding teams, have a young nucleus they boast about. It’s a matter of how they get their nucleus to turn a corner, break out of the NBA’s cellar, and begin competing for the playoffs. Drummond, 26, is a step in that direction. He’s a player in his prime who complements the players the Cavs are committed to.

Drummond and the Cavs can help each other. Drummond gets to prove that he’s one of the game’s prominent big men, and a positive outcome gives the Cavs a player to build through. If their relationship doesn’t improve and/or Drummond struggles to fit in for whatever reason, he can leave in free agency next summer.

Acquiring Andre Drummond was a savvy move and an outright steal. If he improves the Cavs and plays at an All-Star caliber level it becomes highway robbery.