Okay, San Antonio Spurs fans, honesty hour time. I’ve been writing for Air Alamo for a few years now and I feel, for whatever reason, some sort of kinship with the readers. I’m trusting, hoping even, that you will not judge me for what you’re about to read and that, instead, it will be viewed as a cautionary tale.
This weekend, after consuming what was probably too many adult beverages, I turned to the one service that’s gotten me through many late, drunk nights – DoorDash. I didn’t care that it was far too late to be ordering sushi, I didn’t care that the delivery charges were egregious, I wanted a spicy tuna roll and some fried rice and there wasn’t a price in the world that was going to prevent me from getting it.
When it was all said and done, there I sat. It was approaching 1 am and I’d spent far more than I should’ve on bottom-tier sushi. I was grossly full, the craving I had when I started down this path was still there, and frankly, I would’ve been better off if I had just gone to bed.
Take warning Spurs fans, this is exactly the situation that the San Antonio Spurs will find themselves in if they trade for Andre Drummond. They’ll give up far too much, get a player who won’t come close to meeting their actual needs, and they’ll come out of the whole ordeal worse off than they were before. Here’s why they’d be much better off just calling it a night and avoiding Drummond altogether.
Andre Drummond is everything the San Antonio Spurs don’t need right now
Early Monday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst broke the news that the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to stop playing Andre Drummond while they looked for a trade partner to take on the former All-Star and his $28.7 million dollar contract.
There was some initial speculation that the Spurs could be involved in the hunt for Drummond. They’re currently sixth in the Western Conference standings and could make a one-for-one deal with LaMarcus Aldridge and Drummond, with the belief being that Drummond would be the player who can take this plucky group over the top to title contention.
I can see why some might believe that Drummond could be the answer to the Spurs’ problems. He’s one of the most physically imposing big men in the league, hardly ever misses games, has career rebounding averages that are some of the best we’ve seen, and racks up double-doubles at a Hall of Fame rate.
Moreover, I truly empathize with the plight of Spurs fans who would rather see the team do something, anything, rather than let another trade deadline slide by without a whisper of activity. But guys, this is not the move. There is a reason that Detroit traded away one of the most dominant players in the recent history of the franchise in exchange for two players who aren’t on an NBA roster today and a second-round pick.
If you’re not familiar with Drummond’s offense, let me paint a picture of it for you. Imagine someone with Jakob Poeltl‘s range, but with none of the soft touch, and a level of confidence in his offensive abilities that would put Dion Waiters to shame.
To understand just how wildly inefficient Drummond is on offense you don’t have to look much further than his post-up numbers. They’re truly a masterclass in how to waste your team’s possessions.
This season he’s third in the league in post-up possessions per game, seventh in frequency, and 118th in points per possession. For perspective, that means he’s posting up more often than Anthony Davis while also scoring at a rate that is equivalent to Bojan Bogdanovic, a famously dangerous weapon on the low block.
To those who say “oh well he brings more on offense than Jakob Poeltl” yeah, so what? Sure Poeltl scores just 0.4 points per post possession compared to Drummond’s 0.82 but he also averages just 0.4 post-up possessions per game compared to Drummond’s 5.4.
At least Poeltl knows his role and embraces it on offense. He’s there to set hard screens, crash the offensive glass, and capitalize on well-run pick and rolls and dump off passes. Meanwhile, Drummond seems to think he’s some cross between Joel Embiid and prime Lamar Odom.
If you had the rare misfortune of having to watch a Cavaliers game that wasn’t against the Brooklyn Nets, you’ve probably seen at least one head-scratching occurrence of Drummond trying to run the offense from the post, think twice about it, back his man down, and throw the ball away with at least 10 seconds left on the shot clock.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2020/12/23/0022000010/675/12a64f2e-c671-b3a9-0696-c8c3ca9e87ee_1280x720.mp4
It would be one thing if these kinds of plays happened once in a blue moon but they’ve only become more common since Drummond moved to Cleveland. Since donning a Cavs uniform he’s averaged an astounding 5.7 turnovers per 100 possessions, a mark that far eclipses what anyone on the Spurs has been doing over the past year.
His defensive contributions, while passable, simply aren’t better than Poeltl’s in any measurable way. Honestly, you don’t even have to measure them. You could just watch the two of them play basketball and that would be enough to tell you that Peoltl is a better defender. But here are some measurements, as a treat.
This year, Poeltl averages 3.2 blocks per 100 possessions compared to Drummond’s 2. Jak ranks fifth in the league in total contested shots, Drummond ranks 35th. Poeltl holds his opponent to just 39.3 percent shooting when he’s in the defensive vicinity, Drummond has almost no effect on them.
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Right now, the NBA as a league is shooting 46 percent on field goal attempts but when Drummond is near them, opposing players shoot 47.8 percent from the field. Drummond’s teams would truly be better off if he just didn’t contest shots. If he did that he’d have time for what he’s best at – rebounding.
I’ve done enough ragging on Drummond up until this point, it’s time to pay respect where respect is due – this man is one of the best rebounders we’ve ever seen. He’s got the 7th highest career average in NBA history for rebounds per game and currently ranks 60th all-time in total rebounds. If he keeps going at the rate we’ve seen it seems impossible that he ranks outside of the top 20 all-time if he plays at least five more years. He is a glass eater of the highest order.
Problem is, that’s not really what the Spurs need help with right now. San Antonio has ridden an unconventional, albeit effective, strategy to the 9th best rebounding figure in the league. Three of their top-five rebounders stand under 6’6 and the strategy for getting rebounds has been, for the most part, to stand by and watch Keldon Johnson or Dejounte Murray fly in and pluck it over someone with a significant height advantage.
And if that doesn’t work, the Spurs still have Poeltl, Rudy Gay, and Aldridge who they can turn to man the glass if need be. Point is, rebounding isn’t the issue that’s holding the Spurs back. So why trade for a player who would really only help them in that area?
The simplest reason could be that it wouldn’t cost the Spurs that much. Would they really walk away from a straight-up Drummond-Aldridge swap? I can’t say for certain but they should. The very manageable costs of integrating a new player would alone make it not worth it.
The San Antonio Spurs could easily trade for Andre Drummond, but I’m begging them not to. It might seem like a good idea now but if this is the path they go down I can promise you they’ll regret the decision in the end. When it comes to late, drunk sushi and overpaid, outdated centers, your best bet is just avoiding it entirely.