The Lakers announced the signing of free agent center Andre Drummond.
Drummond was on the buyout market after the Cavaliers failed to find a trade destination for him. Joining the reigning champions, a lot has been spoken about Drummond. Much of it hasn’t been complimentary.
Drummond’s Lakers fit
The fit of Drummond on the Lakers is different to anything he’s been involved with before, however. Criticisms of him as an empty calories guy have been fair. His defense hasn’t been up to scratch. His offensive decision making has often been questionable. Just like with Dwight Howard, though, a lower usage, a change of scenery, can change so much.
Back to work. 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/aFUKp84D2O
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) March 29, 2021
Drummond isn’t getting fed it in the post. His flaws on the defensive end should be covered to a degree by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It’s false to make an equivalence between Howard and Drummond as defenders, but if he buys in and sticks to a reduced role on defense, Drummond’s sheer athleticism can be of use to the Lakers in the paint.
The Lakers are the best defense in the NBA when Marc Gasol is on the court. Like Drummond, though, Gasol’s limitations are obvious. They are barely comparable as players, which could help Frank Vogel. There will be times when Drummond’s mobility and athleticism is preferable to Gasol. There will be matchups where Drummond is of little to no use.
Having more options is unquestionably better. The Lakers benefitted from just that with JaVale McGee, Howard, Davis and Markieff Morris to play at the five. They now have similar depth in Davis, Montrezl Harrell, Gasol, Drummond and Morris.
Where Drummond can excel on offense
The offensive end is going to be perhaps a greater challenge. Also, though, this is a new experience for Drummond. He can be a roll man and dunk-spot lurker for one of the game’s greatest ever playmakers in LeBron James.
The Lakers just announced the signing of Andre Drummond officially. "We feel extremely fortunate to add a player of his caliber and magnitude to our core group at this stage of our journey to defend the NBA title," Rob Pelinka said in a statement.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 29, 2021
Maybe too much has been made of accepting this role, too. Drummond’s contract and teammates has always made him a key player on the team. He’s joining a roster laden with NBA champions, playing alongside two All-NBA level players. Just signing for the Lakers shows an acceptance that his role will change.
It’s common knowledge that Drummond’s numbers finishing as a roll man are ugly. Circumstance could help to address this. There will be no off-the-bounce attempts over two people. It will be lob throw-downs, tip-ins and dump-off slams.
The skepticism of Drummond is warranted. A change of situation can alter the performance level of a player, however, both from a fit and motivation standpoint.
The Lakers don’t need Drummond to be a major piece, but he can make a considerable difference for them if he learns to excel in a limited role.