NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: Andre Drummond #12 of the Connecticut Huskies lays up a basket against the DePaul Blue Demons during their first round game of the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 6, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Aykis16 on what would actually likely happen if the Kings picked Andre Drummond in the 2012 NBA Draft.
In somewhat of a surprise, the Kings opt to take Andre Drummond with the 5th pick after a stellar workout and the fact that Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson were all drafted ahead of them. The Kings had all three players ahead of Drummond on their board, and weren't really that excited by what they saw from Beal during his workout or his time in Florida.
Drummond is the youngest player in the draft next to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and struggled throughout his lone year at college against tough competition. The Kings hope that they can bring Drummond along slowly and eventually develop him into DeMarcus Cousins' ultimate frontcourt partner, a big, athletic shotblocker who doesn't need the ball offensively to be effective.
Jason Thompson is still the incumbent starter for the Kings after re-signing for just over the Mid-Level Exception, and nothing the Kings see in Summer League or Pre-Season changes that. There are some oohs-and-ahs at times from fun breakaway dunks or good blocks, but there are also the inevitable goaltends, the poor decision making and an incredibly raw offensive game.
By the time the season starts, Drummond is the 4th big off the bench, with Cousins and Thompson starting and veteran Chuck Hayes coming off the bench. Drummond gets spot minutes and fills in during foul trouble. When he does play, he leaves Kings fans alternately amazed and confounded. The potential is clearly there, but it has definitely not been translated.
At the end of his rookie year, Drummond seems a bit of a disappointment to a lot of fans. The team did not improve to the point that they were legitimate playoff contenders, and many fans are already declaring Drummond a bust after a mediocre year that ends the Kings three season streak of having rookies named to an All-Rookie team. Other fans are more patient, and see a solid foundation and room for growth in Drummond. He might not ever be a superstar, but with Cousins emerging, he doesn't really need to be.
There's a decent jump in production during Drummond's sophomore season as he begins to get more of a feel for the game. He spent a lot of his summer focusing on rebounding, boxing out and correct defensive positioning with the Kings coaching staff, and as a result he is able to make more of an impact when he is on the floor. Too often in his rookie season (and in college), Drummond used his athleticism as a crutch instead of using it to enhance his game. By that I mean he'd cheat off defenders thinking that he'd be able to make it back in time, or that he wouldn't box out, not realizing that he wasn't bigger than everyone anymore and actually has to go after rebounds.
Still, Drummond remains a bench player for most of his rookie season aside from a few games in which he fills in for an injured big man. In those games, he looks a bit lost still, although there's more amazement and less frustration with fans than before. The bust talk begins to settle down a bit, although it's still not completely gone. More and more people begin to hope that Drummond can develop into a starter to pair with DeMarcus for the long term. Derrick Favors and DeAndre Jordan are oft-used comparisons for Drummond's growth and potential on fan forums.
The third year is when Drummond finally earns his spot in the starting lineup. Coach Keith Smart feels that the team's interior defense needs a boost, and puts him next to DeMarcus, feeling that Jason Thompson is better suited as a bench big anyway, that can come in and play with either Cousins or Drummond. Drummond's numbers improve very similarly to how DeAndre Jordan's did in his third year, averaging about 8 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 26 minutes as a starter.
At the beginning of his fourth year, it's clear that Drummond will never be the superstar or even star that many thought he would once be, but neither would he be a bust. Drummond instead would become the defensive center the Kings have lacked for so long, also capable of making plays off of the ball offensively. With Cousins as the team's focal point, that's all the frontcourt really needs anyway.