Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond was one of the most impressive rookies in the NBA this season, a dynamic force who managed many impressive stat lines despite playing only 20.7 minutes per game. His per-36-minute averages of 13.8 ppg, 13.2 rpg, and 2.8 bpg suggest a player who could eventually turn into one of the most impactful interior players in the league. There are good reasons to be bullish about his future.
On the other hand, Drummond can look exceedingly raw, like a player who gets by on his athleticism and intuition rather than his refined sense of the game. Drummond must recognize this issue, because he has hired a pretty famous coach to instruct him on the finer points of his position. From Perry A. Farrell for the Detroit Free Press:
Is Hakeem (The Dream) Olajuwon in Andre Drummond’s future?
The Hall of Fame center, one of the game’s all-time great offensive players, is expected to work with the Pistons’ center-forward over the summer to help him with his offensive game, which is still in the infant stages.
Drummond has been at the practice facility recently. He took about a two-week break, according to Pistons.com, before getting back into the gym to work on his game.
Olajuwon has earned acclaim for his post work with star players such as LeBron James and Dwight Howard, and Drummond's hope must be that one of the best centers of all time will help him develop some much-needed go-to moves inside. These sessions don't run cheap, either, so Drummond must be serious.
Of course, Hakeem is far from a sure bet to improve Drummond's game, and not just because a few practices can't replace a whole offseason of workouts. Last summer, Olajuwon helped out JaVale McGee, who saw little improvement in his post game despite needing similar rudimentary instruction. McGee is a singular player and shouldn't be taken as precedent for anyone, but it's possible that Hakeem is better used as someone who can add to a readymade offensive game than as someone who can construct those abilities from nothing. After all, we're only talking about a few meetings — it's not as if Olajuwon will serve as Drummond's personal coach for a protracted length of time.
Plus, on a very simple level, it's arguable that developing a few post moves isn't Drummond's greatest need at this point in his career. While Drummond certainly isn't any kind of go-to player in the post (his impressive 60.8 percent shooting came on only 5.7 attempts per game), he scores enough on putbacks and dunks to justify major minutes. The real issue for Drummond is that he can't shoot foul shots at anything resembling a respectable clip. At only 37.1 percent this season, he's an obvious mark for Slay-A-Dre tactics, putting his long-term viability as a scoring option into question. Drummond can have all the post moves he wants, but they won't matter if teams have reason to hack him any time he gets the ball. There's even an argument that this deficiency endangers him, since his high-flying ways and immense strength could cause teams to foul him very hard in mid-air with some regularity.
There's no reason that Drummond can't work on his post moves and free-throw shooting at the same time, but he could be following a popular path of development that doesn't necessarily correspond to his particular needs. Every player has a different set of skills, gaps, and even learning style, to the point where a one-size-fits-all approach can often be a distraction rather than a solution.