The Los Angeles Lakers have a long-standing history with dominant big men that dates back to 1949, when George Mikan led the Minneapolis Lakers to their first-ever BAA championship. While the Lakers already have an elite big man on their roster this season in Anthony Davis, they added what they’re hoping will be a a second one in the post-trade deadline buyout market with Andre Drummond.
Drummond, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, was one of several big names to hit the buyout market this year, however, unlike some of the other All-Stars that were available like Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, Drummond, who won’t turn 28 until the offseason, is still in his prime.
Last season, Drummond averaged 17.7 points. 15.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Only nine players in NBA history have averaged at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, a block and a steal in season and Drummond has done it three times. He also has the best rebound percentage in league history at 24.6%.
So what led Drummond to sign a veteran’s minimum contract with the Lakers as opposed to a team that could have paid him more in the short and long-term? A desire to compete, according to the two-time All-Star.
“For me personally, just having that playoff experience but not having success was something I was hungry for,” Drummond said. “I was hungry to get back in the playoffs again and really have that true experience of what it’s like to play on the biggest stage, so being here and being able to have that opportunity is truly a blessing and I’m excited to take on this role.”
Drummond also confirmed that LeBron James and Anthony Davis played a role in his decision-making process. but those conversations were more “fun” than they were influential.
“For me, I just thought it was the best fit,” Drummond said. “I think, being here, I’m able to come in right away and impact this team defensively — just with my toughness on both sides of the court, but mainly defensively, coming here to be that anchor for his team.”
However, to say that Drummond fell right into the Lakers’ laps by pure chance would be inaccurate.
Last year, the Detroit Pistons traded Drummond to the Cavaliers for Brandon Knight, John Henson and a second-round pick after failing to have success with him as the cornerstone of their franchise. The Cavaliers were hopeful that Drummond could be a big part of their future when they acquired him, but they also decided to move on from him in spite of his impressive counting stats. Drummond played his last game for the Cavaliers on Feb. 12.
With the Lakers, Drummond won’t be forced into a star role, and it doesn’t like he’s going to force himself into one either.
“I had a discussion with Coach Frank about [my role] already,” Drummond said. “I know what it is, he knows what it is, the team knows what it is, so I’m just here to help in whatever capacity it may be. I’m not here to steal nobody’s shine, I’m just here to help this team win as many games as possible.”
Drummond took it a step further and said that his No. 1 priority is to make life easier on the Lakers’ superstar tandem of James and Davis on both ends of the floor, but especially on defense.
“I’m not here to do anything besides win, so I think playing with those guys can really benefit my game and allow them to play their game,” Drummond said. “They have a third person to cause havoc in the paint.”
Playing with James specifically is something that Drummond has thought about for a while, as evidenced by his tweet from 2011 that has since been resurfaced as a result of him signing with the Lakers.
“What’s funny about that tweet is that when it came out, I was sitting out with my best friend and he was like, ‘Yo, I remember this and the day you tweeted it.’ It was the day before I went to UConn, so just for it to come back full circle and to have the opportunity to do it is... it’s crazy how time works,” Drummond said.
one of my goals In life Is to meet an play with or against @KingJames— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) August 11, 2011
But Drummond also expressed his excitement to play alongside Davis, who was drafted eight picks before him in 2012.
“I think for me coming here, AD can slide to the four and play his true position and be very good at it without taking the bumps and bruises that I do at the five,” Drummond said. “So I’m looking forward to having that tandem with him and being on the same court as him.”
Drummond will have to wait a little while to play with James and Davis, as they’re both nursing injuries at the moment, but he shouldn’t have to wait too long to make his first appearance for the Lakers. His first opportunity will come on Wednesday, when the Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks, but he doesn’t know if he will be able to play yet.
“I just got here yesterday, so I’m just trying to figure all this stuff out right now,” Drummond said. “But I think for me personally, I could have an immediate impact defensively for this team, so I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to step back on the court again.
“It’s been almost a month and 10-plus days since I last played, so you can imagine the hunger and excitement I have to play and step on the court.”