Andre Drummond’s contemporaries first to benefit from the massive money set to flood the NBA beginning next year. On the back of an astounding showing all year, NBA Champion Draymond Green got a bumper deal from the Golden State Warriors that will have him net an average $ 17 million dollars per year for 5 years.
New Orleans Pelicans made the no-brainer decision of signing 2012 Number One Draft pick Anthony Davis to a mega rich contract worth $129 million dollars for five years. A breakdown of the colossal sum gives the Chicago native, now a main stay in the Big Easy, will earn a $ 29 million dollars average between January and December.
Damian Lillard, the sixth pick in the same Draft will earn slightly less than Davis checking in just $4 million dollars a year short of Davis’ contract; the Portland Trailblazers star Point Guard will $125 million dollars in five years.
The values of the new contracts being shelled out to the league’s young studs are to put it lightly jaw dropping. It must be noted that, these contracts will only take effect next year because the athletes involved in these deals are in the final year of their first NBA contracts- the Rookie-Scale contracts.
Drummond despite being considered the future of the franchise and “max player” by owner Tom Gores, the 6 foot 10 inch big man was not given a contract extension like his colleagues elsewhere.
For a man only 23 years old and having been the top offensive rebounder in the NBA the past seasons in consecutive fashion-440 in 2013-2014 and 437 in 2014-2015 according to Basketball Reference.com-the decision not to sign him to a contract extension sure did raise eye brows around the Motor City.
Conversely, the Pistons having missed out on the playoffs for five straight years, made the decision with an eye for future happenings since extending Drummond’s contract this year would have meant the cash to be doled out to Drummond would have a hit on the team’s salary cap which in turn prevents the team from signing another star player.
The San Antonio Spurs was able to sign top free agent LaMarcus Aldridge and Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard to massive contracts before this season because the organization delayed on extending Leonard’s contract in the season prior.
Right from the start of the league, Drummond has been in dominant fashion in offense and defense for the Pistons averaging 19 points and 19 rebounds per game respectively and nine games into the season has 57 offensive rebounds; the closest player is New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis who has 30 according to the New York Times.
His increased production which has landed him back to back Eastern Conference Player of the Week awards has steered Detroit Pistons to a likable five wins and three losses record. Looking closely at Drummond’s numbers and play show a player who is playing with freedom he hasn’t been blessed with since entering the league in 2012.
From 2012, Drummond- a back to the basket low post player- has had to share the Pistons frontcourt with guys of similar ilk (inconsistent, little or no floor spacing ability) like Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, Joel Anthony and Charlie Villanueva.
The presence of these players jammed the painted area of the opposition half which is Drummond’s bread and butter. Coach Stan Van Gundy recently in an interview with Perry Ferell admitted both men were “not the best fit”.
He went on to explain that both were Centers and in order to make starting room for both, Monroe had to be played at the Power Forward position which robbed him of his post up game.
Stan Van Gundy who was hired last season began dismantling the frontcourt to widen the space to accommodate Drummond’s big body. He jettisoned Josh Smith to the Houston Rockets; let Greg Monroe walk to the Milwaukee Bucks as a free agent and brought in forwards with shooting abilities like Ersan Ilyasova, Markieff Morris. To further space out their offense, Pistons backcourt got upgraded further with the addition of Steve Blake, Spencer Dinwiddie and rookie Stanley Johnson.
Drummond now plays as Detroit’s lone big man in the starting lineup surrounded by a cluster of shooters like stretch “4’s”- Power Forward’s with shooting range and piercing guards which allows him to be what the team had in mind when he was drafted.
This move falls in line with Van Gundy’s assessment to Ferell; “I think the game is moving smaller and quicker as it is. “The teams that have continued to play with two big guys, at least one of them is — if not both — is a guy who can step away and make shots.”
Come next year, Drummond will be inevitably rewarded with a massive contract and per his performances via a tactical change this season, he will be worth every cent of it.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah