Why Andre Drummond’s Surgery Should Give Fans Hope

DETROIT, MI - MAY 16: Andre Drummond
DETROIT, MI - MAY 16: Andre Drummond /

Andre Drummond’s nasal surgery may have seemed inconsequential, but what kind of impact will it have for the Detroit Pistons?

All Detroit Pistons’ fans have witnessed it.

Andre Drummond jogging up the court at a lackadaisical pace while the rest of the team is sprinting in transition.

Andre Drummond getting beat off the dribble for an easy basket.

Andre Drummond, in spite of being one of the best rebounders in the NBA, showing little effort to crash the boards.

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Andre Drummond huffing and puffing at the end of games.

Pistons fans and analysts have attributed Andre Drummond with the “lazy” moniker, claimed he has no “motor,” and no “drive” to succeed and these labels would carry and plague the 23 year old big man for the rest of his career. Analysts and fans have consistently overlooked Andre Drummond as one of the rising stars in the NBA because of these identifiers.

What if the issue can be resolved?

What if the issue IS resolved?

This offseason, Andre Drummond underwent a procedure to repair his deviated septum – a problem that’s plagued him his entire life, but became more noticeable during his NBA tenure.

The Mayo Clinic has defined the nasal septum as the wall that separates one nostril from the other. When an individual has a deviated septum, the wall tilts to one side and either reduces the diameter of that passage, or completely blocks it altogether. Deviated septa affect nearly 80 percent of individuals, with varying degrees of tilting. When the deviation is severe enough, surgery (called septoplasty) can be completed to straighten out and improve air flow.

It’s something we take for granted every day. Every breath we take infuses our blood with oxygen, which infuses our muscles with the oxygen vital for adequate function and recovery. When breathing is obstructed (even slightly), it can cause oxygen levels in the blood drop, the breathing rate to increase, and cause a constant feeling of pressure on the sinus area.

One of the most detrimental complications from having a deviated septum is restless or disturbed sleep from not being able to breathe comfortably at night.  Lack of quality sleep can cause a myriad of issues including mood alteration, cause a lack of concentration, as well as impaired physical performance, especially in high-endurance sports like basketball.

Rod Beard, member of the Twitter Pistons Council and columnist for the Detroit News got a chance to gather some information from Andre Drummond shortly after his surgery at a logo unveiling in Campus Martius.

"“‘I can sleep better,’ he said.He anticipates it’ll have him feeling stronger during games, as well, as he won’t have to breathe out of his mouth to help relieve the pressure.”"

Sleeping better may have injected a new attitude in Drummond as he dominated the Drew League this year, scoring 33 points and grabbing 15 rebounds (highlights below) and seems poised for a breakout year with a healthy Reggie Jackson at the helm.

How much of an impact will we see from Drummond post-surgery? It’s difficult to tell because we have no data or statistics of NBA play post-surgery, however, there are statistics available for less-than-ideal nasal conditions. These conditions may have caused his deviated septum condition to become exacerbated and comparing the change in performance from what were “normal” conditions to “less-than-ideal” conditions might give an indication towards the improved performance from Drummond’s previous “normal” to his new “normal.”

For an NBA athlete, the “less-than-ideal” conditions are found on the second game of a back-to-backs (SEGABABAs), where the second game typically requires the Detroit Pistons to fly either back home or to another location immediately following the game. Flying, due to the drier and thinner air found at 30,000 feet as well as the pressure difference, can frequently cause those with nasal problems to have their problems become aggravated, which can affect sleep quality. Affecting sleep quality, might have a negative impact on the recovery of the muscles after the game.

To understand the impact that the lack of sleep and adverse nasal conditions may have, I looked at “hustle” statistics, or statistics that may be inflated with effort.

In SEGABABA games, he sported a defensive rating approximately six points lower than his season average, a +/- of -11.6 compared to his season average of -3.4, averaged two less rebounds per 36 minutes, and had a rebound percentage of approximately three percent less than his season average.

These may seem nominal, but if Andre Drummond’s performance can be affected by adverse sleep and nasal conditions, it can also be improved simply with the curing of his ailment. The Detroit Pistons need Andre Drummond to take a step forward this year, and with his newly found “breath of fresh air,” he’ll be able to leap forward and provide hope for this upcoming Pistons season.