I participated in an ESPN 5-on-5 on the center position, and to the surprise of nobody, Andre Drummond came up.
Both Israel Gutierrez and I picked Drummond for “Who’s the most promising center in the NBA?”:
Feldman: Andre Drummond. No current player combines his size and athleticism, and in limited playing time last season, he showed he can use those traits to make a huge impact. Nearly 20, Drummond has plenty of time to smooth his rough edges, especially his free throw shooting, and become elite. Already, he’s a highly efficient finisher, unstoppable rebounder and plus defender.
Gutierrez: Andre Drummond. As a raw 19-year-old, Drummond averaged 2.8 blocks, 1.7 steals, 13.8 points and 13.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. By the time he’s actually playing 36 minutes a game, those numbers could be significantly better. He might want to figure out that tricky free throw thing, though.
Asked a similar, but different-enough question – “Who will be the best center in the NBA in five years?” – two other panelists, Amin Vafa of Hardwood Paroxysm and Jack Winter of Warriors World, two people whose brightness I can vouch for first hand, chose Drummond:
Vafa: Andre Drummond. A back injury robbed us of watching him play a complete season, but in just the short glimpse we got, we saw something special. His PER makes him one of the top-20 most-efficient players in the NBA, and his strength and skill make him one of the most exciting centers to watch (see for yourself). And at just 19, his ceiling is almost limitless.
Winter: Andre Drummond. Davis is still the better player and prospect, but his positional ambiguity offers a chance for some wiggle room; I’ll take it to give Drummond his due. If his skill level can catch up to his body, Detroit’s impressionable man-child will be a franchise player and perennial MVP candidate. Though that seems unlikely at this point, in time Drummond will fulfill his potential as a game-changing terror.
That means four of the five panelists had very good things to say about Drummond, each in their own way. Brendan Jackson of Celtics Hub, I just don’t know what to do with you, man.
For what it’s worth, here’s my answer to the five-years-from-now question:
Feldman: Anthony Davis, who will develop into more of a center than a power forward as he gets bigger and the league shifts smaller. Howard will be 32 — hardly disqualifying, but I just can’t trust a player so big to remain healthy at that age. Davis is slightly more advanced than Drummond right now, and though some of that might be more Lawrence Frank’s fault than Drummond’s, it’s enough to give Davis the edge in a close three-way race with Howard and Drummond.
I’d just like to add emphasis to the word “slightly.”
Davis is slightly more advanced than Drummond right now.