Pistons' Drummond becoming one of NBA's best rebounders

Pistons' Drummond becoming one of NBA's best rebounders
November 27, 2013, 12:00 am
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Mark Strotman

The Bulls will try tonight to snap a four-game losing streak, the longest regular-season streak in Tom Thibodeau's career, tonight in Detroit. But they'll have to get by Andre Drummond, who is quickly becoming one of the best rebounders in the NBA. Tune in at 6 p.m. for Bulls Pregame Live, hosted by Mark Schanowski and Will Perdue. Stay with CSN after the game for highlights, player interviews and analysis on Postgame Live.

Andre Drummond entered the NBA after one uninspiring season at Connecticut, where he and fellow frontcourt mate Alex Oriakhi were labeled by most as lethargic underachievers. Still, as a 6-foot-10, 275-pound chiseled 19-year-old, Drummond's NBA stock didn't drop all that far after that season, and the Detroit Pistons took him No. 9 in the 2012 NBA Draft.

The former No. 1 overall high school prospect struggled to find playing time early in his rookie season, and a stress fracture in his back cost him nearly two months. Still, in the final 10 games of the season he averaged 11.1 points and 8.2 rebounds and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting, behind Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal.

Drummond rode his late-season momentum into this year's Orlando Summer League, where he averaged 15.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.0 blocks in four games. Though Summer League performances must be taken with a grain of salt, it was apparent Drummond was in for a monster season.

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And through 14 games, he has been a monster.

Drummond is averaging 12.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game, and nine times has gone for double-doubles, tied for fourth most in the NBA. He is one of two players (DeAndre Jordan) averaging at least four offensive rebounds and seven defensive rebounds, and he's also leading the NBA in field-goal percentage (65.9 percent) by five percentage points -- LeBron James' 60.9 percent ranks second, albeit on 6.5 more shots per game.

So while he's been efficient (true, his 24.1 percent mark from the free-throw line would be an all-time worst) from the field, his rebounding really has been his most stunning feature. At just 20 years old, he already has catapulted into elite status on the glass, and advanced numbers show the same.

As much as rebounds per game show, there are more factors that prove worth on the boards.

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The most accurate advanced statistic a team can use is rebound percentage, calculated by the percentage of available rebounds a player corrals while on the court. For example, if Player A grabs five rebounds on 50 missed shots, he is averaging 5.0 rebounds and has a rebound percentage of 10.0. If Player B grabs four rebounds on 20 missed shots, he is averaging 4.0 rebounds but his rebound percentage is 20.0. Player B clearly is the better rebounder, though simply looking at "rebounds per game" wouldn't tell you that.

And here's where Drummond ranks in rebound percentage through the first four weeks of the season, and where Joakim Noah ranks.

Rank Player REB rate
1. Dwight Howard 21.4
2. Andre Drummond 20.5
3. Kevin Love 20.4
4. Jordan Hill 20.3
5. DeJuan Blair 20.3

 

This isn't to say that DeJuan Blair is the fifth best rebounder in the NBA, but when comparing players at the top of NBA in rebounds per game this statistic goes a long way in comparing true worth on the glass. Drummond is fourth in the NBA in rebounds per game, but second in the percentage of available rebounds he grabs while on the court.

Advanced statistics have come a long way, specifically this season, and SportVU has come up with video analysis to determine how many "contested rebounds" a player grabs. All rebounds are not created equally, as there's a difference between a player grabbing a rebound on a missed free throw in the first quarter and grabbing a rebound in traffic late in a close game.

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Contested rebounds are defined by SportVU as "the number of rebounds gathered where an opponent is within 3.5 feet." Drummond is third in the NBA in this category, gathering 5.1 contested rebounds per game. His 6.7 uncontested rebounds per game are eighth in the NBA, showing perhaps that the Pistons frontcourt anchor has had to work for his rebounds.

Here are the leaders in contested rebounds per game, as well as Noah's mark.

Rank Player Con. RPG
1. Kevin Love 5.6
2. DeAndre Drummond 5.5
3. Andre Drummond 5.1
4. Anthony Davis 4.8
17. Joakim Noah 3.8

 

(Along with Drummond's impressive rate, Kevin Love's mark should also stand out. Though he's sometimes painted as a less-than-stellar athlete, it's clear that he's an elite rebounder with strength and athleticism to bang with the best in the NBA.)

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There's little arguing that Drummond is among the league's best rebounders, but the fact that he's doing it at just 20 years old makes it all the more impressive. Head coach Mo Cheeks has shown enough confidence in his talented center to play 34 minutes per game, and his rebounding numbers have stayed at an elite rate despite having Greg Monroe and Josh Smith -- both solid rebounders for their respective positions -- in the frontcourt.

The Bulls out-rebounded the Jazz 49-45 in Monday's overtime loss, and they'll certainly have their hands full tonight against Drummond and the Pistons. Joakim Noah, Nazr Mohammed and Taj Gibson must work not to let the 20-year-old own the glass, as second-chance points on offense will go a long way against the NBA's 10th best rebounding team. Catch all the action tonight on Comcast SportsNet, and get interactive during the game with Bulls Pulse, using #BullsTalk to join the conversation.