Mythbusters Series: Andre Drummond is a Good Defender
Carlos Osorio/AP Photo
Off the Glass’ Mytbusters Series was designed to put an end to mistaken common beliefs in the NBA community. Today, we take a look at why Andre Drummond is not nearly as good of a defender as most people think he is.
Andre Drummond is undoubtedly one of the best rebounders in the league. He currently leads the league in rebounds per game with 14.9; no one has more total offensive boards (195) than Dre, either.
Despite being a great rebounder, Drummond is certainly not as good of a defender. This is a common misconception among some NBA fans, who seem to think Drummond is one of the best defenders in the league.
Today I’m here to debunk the myth that Drummond is indeed one of the NBA's best defenders. In reality, he may be an average or below average defender at the center position.
One of the main arguments I have heard people use in Drummond’s favor references his individual defensive rating stats. Per Basketball Reference, Drummond has never had a defensive rating above 104, a pretty impressive mark.
In fact, only once has Dre posted an individual defensive rating mark above 100 in his seven seasons as a pro. In any event, I believe individual defensive ratings are not as accurate of an indicator as a team defensive rating mark is simply because individual ratings are heavily influenced by the teammates you share the court with.
For instance, Kyrie Irving has a career-high 105 defensive rating this season, second only to his 106 mark from last season. Do you think it is a coincidence that two of Irving’s highest individual defensive rating stats came when he was a part of an elite defensive team, and not before, when he was a part of average or below average defensive squads?
Going back to Drummond, the Pistons teams he has played on have been quite good defensive units as a whole. Detroit's problems have been more related to lack of offense than to bad defense. Over the past four seasons (including this one), the Pistons have been 12th or higher in team defensive rating every year. Surprisingly, though, the team only made the Playoffs once in that span and only to be swept as an 8th seed.
Logic would suggest that the Pistons have OBVIOUSLY been this good defensively for so long because of Drummond’s impact on that end. But in fact, the team has not really struggled on defense with Drummond off the floor; actually, the team has been better defensively when Dre takes a breather on the bench.
Excluding the 2015-16 campaign – arguably the best season of his career and the one that saw him make his first All-Star game – the Pistons have had a positive points per 100 possessions every season while Drummond is off the floor, per Cleaning the Glass. This means that Detroit's opponents score less when Drummond is not playing.
Additionally, Drummond allows a very high volume of shots, and opponents make them rather easily. Per Swish Analytics, the Pistons allow the most points scored by centers per game in the NBA (21.39), the most center field goals (8.28), the sixth most center free throw attempts (4.92), and a 56.3% center field goal percentage, 24th in the league.
Granted, these numbers belong to the Pistons center rotation as a whole, not just Drummond. But he does log 33 minutes per game at center. For added context, Zaza Pachulia is the main backup at center, and the Pistons allow a mere 103.5 points per 100 possessions during the 12.6 minutes he is on the floor, good for 89th percentile compared to other qualifying big men.
It is time to stop labeling Drummond as a great, or even good defender. He is yet to prove he is anything above an average defender, and calling him that at this point may be a little generous too.
You can personally discuss this matter with me via Twitter @CantuNBA. Also, if you think there is an NBA myth that needs to be busted, feel free to let us know @otgbasketball and it might be featured on the series in the future!