A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why future #1 pick Andre Drummond reminds me of a bigger John Wall

with 3 comments

The draft board and stage pre draft.

Image via Wikipe

You may have been disappointed by the 2011 draft simply because it didn’t have any knockout prospects. I’m a bit higher on PG Kyrie Irving’s potential to be a top 10 or 15 player and maybe get close to where Mark Price was in impact and statistics, but certainly from a talent perspective, you didn’t have an “Oh my god” physical talent like John Wall, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Greg Oden were in their drafts.

2012 is different. Andre Drummond is the definition of an “Oh my god” physical talent and quite possibly the most purely talented player since Dwight Howard went 1st overal in 2005, if you consider Oden’s health issues as something to diminish his ‘physical gifts’. Like Howard he’s a freakish combination of massive size and outstanding explosiveness – and he’s showing solid touch and ability to pass at the high school level.

But there’s a catch. In the last year or so, he’s starting to get some criticism for coasting on his talent level in games – plus, his stylistic preference has been to be a face-up, finishing and finesse PF. The stylistic comparison for Andre Drummond has moved from Dwight Howard to Amare Stoudemire. Now I’m not going to say we should be remotely disappointing in Drummond having Amare’s career considering how outstanding he’s been offensively, and frankly I don’t have personal hand knowledge of Drummond’s makeup to say he won’t go back to playing center and mimicing Howard. I would suppose that if he is indeed a future PF, he has the potential to be like Amare offensively with greater rebounding and defensive ability – which would possibly make him a top 5 player. But I’ll tell you what his situation reminds me of: John Wall

Like Drummond, John Wall was just about the biggest lock I’ve ever seen for at least be a ‘star’ and core player before his draft. With size and explosiveness like that, in a league predicated towards PGs and penetration? Barring injury, there was no doubt. For lack of a better expression, John Wall was an obvious superstar is obvious. I feel the same way about Drummond. With this guy’s physical talent, there’s just no way he doesn’t succeed and become an above average and noteable player for his position. That’s also why it’s already essentially a lock that he will go first, as it was for Wall even before his college season started. You can pretty much pencil in a minimum of 18 and 8 from the PF position for Drummond, just like you could 16 and 9 from Wall at some point – and then he put up those stats in his rookie season. 18 and 8 is probably as good a bet as any for Drummond’s rookie statistics.

But more than that, I feel the mental makeup is likely to be a direct comparison. Earlier this year I posted this article comparing Wall and Derrick Rose – The reason I’m not as high on Wall as I was Rose, is that there’s a line in the sand there mentally. There’s nothing necessarily *bad* about Wall’s approach to the game, but Rose is the consumate leader, one of the hardest workers in the league and seems like he puts everything into his game because he genuinely wants to. Wall is cut out more like LeBron James. He’s a star and he knows it, he gets a lot out of wowing people with his talent. He enjoys the game and enjoys winning, but I don’t get the impression that he’s as stone cold driven on improving his game, becoming a champion, on becoming the best at reading the game as he can possibly be. It’s the same reason Lebron isn’t cut from the same cloth as Michael Jordan. That doesn’t mean Lebron or Wall can’t win or it doesn’t hurt when they lose, but it’s more of a credit to Rose, Durant, and Jordan etc. than a slight on them

And that’s where I see Andre Drummond’s career going. He sounds like a decent kid who will fit with teammates and will generally want to win, he will likely be a dominant offensive player, he will define this era for the franchise that drafts him. I’d guess he will be annointed a superstar and all-star vote in by the media, but perhaps slightly less beloved by the basketball academics and nerds, in the same way we don’t like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire as much as the mass public. I’m guessing he will have fun on the court, emphatically finish highlights, and enjoy his career as he banks hundreds of millions in salary for doing it. As with fellow future superstar John Wall, none of this is bad. But there’s a line in the sand between that and what Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are. There’s something different about those 2 players. It’s an intangible quality, work ethic, drive, love for improvement, whatever you like to call it. Few players have it but you can always tell it’s there. Rose has it, Durant has it. Chris Paul has it and Deron Williams doesn’t have it. Weirdly, DeMar DeRozan has it (Just trust me on this one). Some people put more into intangibles than other – The great forces in the game do it mentally as well as physically and the list of title winners in the last 50 years and their best players is absolutely dominated by mental force of nature/I’m going to work harder than you players. There’s players where it just seems like they were born to win, period. It’s the extra 10% that’s the difference between a great career and being an era defining force. While Andre Drummond and John Wall have a lot to prove and obviously I don’t personally know them, it sounds to me like they’re on the side of that line in the sand containing LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire – rather than on the other side containing Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and so forth. And my gut would say it’s far more likely we see Rose and Durant with the Larry O’Brien trophy or having only each other in the way of glory, than seeing Wall and Drummond in that situation.

On one final note, John Wall and Andre Drummond ending up together on the Wizards just feels right, doesn’t it? I think the scenario the “league rigged. Me blind caveman” types would jump on is Drummond landing in Washington or Cleveland. In Washington you’d have one of the most popular duos in the league, in the nation’s capital, on a franchise that’s been tortured for 30 years. In Cleveland they get immediate retribution for what just happened to them and the possibility of Cleveland beating the Heat in the playoffs to get a ring before the King, aka the Best. Story. Ever.  comes into play

Anyways, I look forward to seeing Andre Drummond’s college season and his general approach to the game. There are not many players who you can this about, but he truly does have an unlimited ceiling. May the worst team win the prize.

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3 Responses

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  1. I just want to toss this out there, but Dwight Howard FOUGHT with Orlando’s coaching staff about becoming a center. Not, you know, physically, but he always wanted to be more like a KG-type player than what he’s turned into now. That changed, and quickly, once he got to the league. So I don’t know that looking at Drummond’s college tendencies is all that fruitful. I think you’re spot-on with the mentality comment, at least at this stage of his life, but I think few people credited Dwight with the sort of drive we now understand him to have because he was never the same kind of personality as those other guys. He has more in common with, say, Shaq than he does with Jordan or Hakeem or Kobe or Duncan. But it hasn’t mattered, he’s been a championship-level defender and rebounder, improving as a scorer, led his team to the Finals, etc, etc.

    It is possible Drummond will do the same.

    Still, interesting post, and he’s definitely a player to watch.

    Tyler

    November 21, 2011 at 7:31 am

  2. Great article. And Drummond and Wall def sounds right, if the Wizards do not get this player, it is very likely that they will remain the worst team in the league and John Wall will be out of DC in a few years… more torture for this franchise and more glory for the “big” teams? I would sure hope not, that’s one of the things that was discussed during the lockout and I hope Stern stays true to his word.

    Rey

    January 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm

  3. Well after Drummond’s season so far he has been unspectacular to say the least. 10 pts per game? This has made fall considerably in most mocks. However, due to his excellent offensive rebounding and shotblocking, along with playing with horrible ballhog, turnover-prone, guards on an underacheiving team with no chemistry- he might be underrated. His college system was nightmarish, but I think we just need to temper expectations and he could still be an excellent defensive player, and be able to score on putbacks, transition plays, and alley-oops.

    Gabe Moreau

    April 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm


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