Andre Drummond is beasting this season.
He’s averaging a career high in points per game with 21.2, in rebounds per game with 18 (and he was already the best rebounder in the league), he’s doing more playmaking (3.6 assists a game) and blocking more shots at the rim (2.1). His advance stats follow suit, with his 26 PER so far the highest of his career.
Next summer he can be a free agent. You decide if all that is a coincidence.
Drummond will be the biggest name on the market, and Pistons’ owner Tom Gores is one of Drummond’s biggest fans. Detroit may pay up to keep him, and Drummond is good with that he told Rod Beard of the Detroit News.
“At the end of the day, I can’t control what the front office wants to do in terms of the contract stuff. The only thing I can control right now is playing the game the right way and putting my team in a good position to win. Whatever happens after that happens,” Drummond told The News. “Obviously, I would enjoy playing for the rest of my career in Detroit. Whatever happens at the end of the year happens and we’ll figure it out when that time comes.”
So what has led to Drummond’s improved play this season?
“It’s a sense of urgency. I’ve had a lot of years in the league, and I know what it takes to win and to lead a team. Overall, it’s just me maturing as a player,” Drummond told The News. “Everybody is saying it’s ‘(contract-year) Dre’ and I wouldn’t even call it that. It’s a maturity aspect and how I carry myself on and off the court.”
Drummond may be the biggest name available as a free agent next summer, but that doesn’t mean he’s automatically getting the max. He’s an old-school center in a league evolving away from that style of player, and while he’s still very good at what he does — and helps a team win games — how much teams are willing to pay for him remains to be seen.
Do teams that have a lot of cap space next summer — New York, Charlotte, and Atlanta are among them — want to spend that money on a traditional big, no matter how good he is? It’s very possible Drummond means more to Detroit than anyone else and the Pistons will pay the most because of that.
What the final number will be the big question.