Voters, we need to talk. Andre Drummond is the rookie of the year. This is not a question, it is a fact! Andre Drummond is outperforming his peers at an insane rate.
It’s not even close. Even if Drummond doesn’t suit up for the rest of the season, it would take an insane performance for any other rookie in the race to even match him. Drummond is THE rookie of the year. And he deserves this award not just because of totals, but also because of the historic nature of his performance. Ben Gulker on a recent podcast mentioned that Drummond’s performance as a 19 year old is unprecedented. I decided to look this up.
Alright, Andre Drummond is already one of the top young players of all time. The results have been interesting. Josh Smith has had an on-again off-again relationship with being a star player. KG and Dwight Howard went on to have dominant careers. Darius Miles was lost early to injury (Portland is just no good) That said, Drummond is in great company. Now, he has no shot of catching Howard’s amazing rookie season. That’s because his minutes have been limited. What is hard to see is just how well Drummond has been playing. Let’s examine the same list but now use per-minute productivity.
Anthony Davis makes his appearance and we get to realize how amazing this rookie class is. Drummond and Davis are stars at 19 out of the gate! Darius Miles is replaced by another injury story – Tracy McGrady. Drummond’s per minute performance for his age is ridiculous. This doesn’t happen! And for the people who will argue it’s because his minutes are limited, I want to stress, most young players minutes are limited! Drummond’s performance is so far off the charts, no one could have seen this coming.
Don’t make the same mistake again
The player that it’s easy to compare Drummond to in these charts is Dwight Howard (not the best person to be compared to right now, but still, he was really good before his injury) What we should note is that Dwight Howard, despite playing the best season of a 19 year old in the modern era, was snubbed of the rookie of the year!
Their rookie season, Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon scored 15.1 points per game, compared to Dwight Howard’s 12.0. As a result, Okafor took home the Rookie of the Year award, while Dwight came in 3rd after Ben Gordon! Side note, they all snubbed the real winner, Andre Iguodala, but that’s beside the point. Dwight Howard had a historic rookie season for his age and no one noticed!
The same thing is in danger of happening again this season.
Damian Lillard currently leads all rookies at 18.4 points per game. Of course, he also leads all rookies in minutes per game at 38.6 (the next closest is Bradley Beal at 31.0 and Drummond sits at a paltry 20.0)
The NBA Geek allows us to compare Lillard to Drummond and answer what, if anything, Lillard does to merit rookie of the year.
Lillard does score 22.9 points per 48 minutes, which is a solid 3.1 points per 48 minutes better than an average point guard. And at 54.1% True Shooting, he’s also 1.2% better at converting attempts to points than an average point guard. Bet let’s look at the rest of the stats. Better at rebounding? Nope! He’s worse at both defensive and offensive boards. How about assists? Well, he’s not THAT far from average, but at 8.1, he’s 0.3 shy of league average. Oh, and he turns the ball over more often than an average point guard at well. He’s not that hot at blocking or stealing either. He does get one more nice mark – he fouls less than an average point guard.
Let’s go to Drummond. How’s his rebounding? It’s insane. He’s pulling down 7.0 offensive boards per 48, the average center gets 4.3! His assists are poor. His turnovers though are great. He blocks twice as well as an average center, pulls down almost twice as many steals as the average center, and gets just a touch over the average number of fouls per minute.
Let’s move onto his scoring. Drummond shoots a remarkable 59.4% from the field. This is where it pains me. His 36.5% free throw rate pulls his True Shooting down to 56.6%. Compare this to the average center, who has a True Shooting rate of 54.3%. For those of you keeping track, Drummond’s efficiency compared to an average center, even accounting for his terrible free throw shooting, is still better relatively than Lillard’s to his average position.
When we add it all up, Drummond is good at turning possessions into points, good at getting the ball, good at keeping the ball, and only needs work at passing and fouling. Whereas Lillard is good at turning possessions into points and not fouling. The end result is Drummond’s productivity is historically high and Lillard sits just below average.
Voters, you have a chance to reward a remarkable season. No one saw this coming. This kind of season doesn’t happen. In spite of mediocre college numbers, limited minutes by a foolish coach, and history against him, Drummond is playing at a level that shouldn’t be done by a 19 year old. Heck, it took Garnett and Dwight a few seasons to start playing three times as well as an average big! Don’t be tricked by a player that’s getting lots of minutes and lots of shots! I hope I can trust you to make the right decision.