Being a two-time All-Star doesn’t make you immune to the growing pains that come with joining a championship contending team midway through the season, as Andre Drummond has learned the way over the last week. Outside of an impressive performance against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, Drummond has struggled to make an impact for the Los Angeles Lakers, particularly on the defensive end.
Through his first five games, Drummond has posted the worst defensive rating on the team (109.1). Per 100 possessions, the Lakers allow 9.1 fewer points with Drummond on the bench than they do with him on the floor.
Offensively, he’s been slightly more impactful, but even then, he’s shot below 40% from the field in three of the games he’s played. On Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets, Drummond went 2-7 from the field in 24 minutes, which contributed to him having the second-worst box plus-minus (-5) on the team. Second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker had the worst at -8.
Suffice to say, Drummond has plenty of room to grow in these final 20 games, and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is doing his part to make sure Drummond is in a position to succeed with the team.
“We’re still learning the different ways that he’s effective, and what kind of chemistry he has with his teammates, but we know he’s a dynamic roller, he’s a great rim-run, seal guy and the best offensive rebounder in the league,” Vogel said. “So those things we know we can put him in, and then ways to get him the basketball in the post off of movement can be effective, and also I think Stan (Van Gundy) did a great job in Detroit in particular with the pick and roll to roll and seal type of approach, which is what we’re looking at as well.”
Drummond last played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he was at his best when he played for the Detroit Pistons from 2012 to 2020. During that time, he led the league in rebounds per game four times and was voted an NBA All-Star twice. He also made the All-NBA Third Team in 2016.
Drummond will try and rediscover that form ahead of free agency, but under much different circumstances. For the first time in his career, Drummond won’t be the focal point of the offense — he wont even be the No. 2 option. He’ll also be part of a team that’s competing for something, which is an adjustment in and of itself, as Kyle Kuzma discovered last season.
“It’s just a process, man,” Kuzma said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built overnight, and I feel like with him, it’s a big adjustment. Just think about it. He’s kind of never really been coached in his career in Detroit and Cleveland, and then coming here into a championship organization, it’s tough. It’s tough.
“I think that for him, the best thing about him is he’s doing a great job of just learning and asking questions and soaking everything in. I learned it firsthand last year: It’s a huge difference between playing basketball, and winning basketball, and that’s the adjustment he’s trying to make right now, to figure it out with new teammates and new offensive and defensive schemes, and trying to play the right way. He’s handled it well, and it’s an adjustment period.”
That adjustment period hasn’t been made any easier with the amount of injuries on the team, some of which Drummond has accounted for, but Kuzma thinks it’s only a matter of time before all of the pieces fall into place.
“I think once the two big dogs get back, it’s going to be much, much easier for him because it’s going to be a lot more simplified. You’ll see.”