Does Andre Drummond Actually Solve the Mavericks’ Problems? Does He Even Fit?

Andre Drummond has been the dream trade target for many Dallas Mavericks fans. The Mavericks’ interior defense isn’t keeping opponents up at night, and their pick-and-roll defense probably has most guards circling the matchup on their calendar as part of their All-Star campaign.

It makes sense that a player like Andre Drummond would look appealing. He’s averaging a double-double with a whopping 13.5 rebounds per game. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, a lot.

Can Kristaps Porzingis and Andre Drummond Play Together?

There aren’t many two-big lineups in the NBA anymore, for obvious reasons. In a pick-and-roll-heavy league where 3-point shooting is more deadly than ever, two-big lineups don’t stand a chance.

Look at the teams that start two bigs. With the exception of one, which we’ll get to, none of them are winning and none of them have a good defensive rating.

TeamRecordOffensive Rating (Rank)Defensive Rating (Rank)
Atlanta Hawks11-1614th19th
Chicago Bulls11-1517th21st
Detroit Pistons8-1922nd22nd
New Orleans Pelicans11-157th28th
Orlando Magic10-1828th20th
Los Angeles Lakers21-712th1st

Is there a possibility that these teams are not good for a variety of reasons and that the two-big lineup isn’t the main culprit? Sure. But at what point does correlation become causation?

Some might point to the Lakers, who start Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol, as a model of why a Kristaps-Drummond lineup would work. But the Lakers are the exception, not the rule. Here’s why:

Anthony Davis is an extremely versatile defender that does things that most players his size (read “Kristaps Porzingis”) can’t do. And although Marc Gasol and Anthony Davis start together, Gasol only plays 20 minutes per game. For the majority of their minutes, the Lakers don’t play a two-big lineup.

Kristaps Porzingis simply cannot guard the majority of Power Forwards in the NBA, which is what he would be doing with Andre Drummond starting at Center. There’s no other big for Kristaps to guard or position to hide him on. His lack of mobility, whether due to his injury history or not, is a problem on defense.

Look at the top eight teams from each conference and their starting Power Forward. How many of them do you think Kristaps can guard?

TeamStarting Power Forward
Philadelphia 76ersTobias Harris
Milwaukee BucksGiannis Antetokounmpo
Brooklyn NetsKevin Durant
Indiana PacersDomantas Sabonis
Boston CelticsJayson Tatum
Charlotte HornetsP.J. Washington
New York KnicksJulius Randle
Toronto RaptorsPascal Siakim
Utah JazzRoyce O’Neale
Los Angeles LakersAnthony Davis
LA ClippersNicolas Batum
Phoenix SunsCameron Johnson
Portland Trail BlazersRobert Covington
San Antonio SpursKeldon Johnson
Denver NuggetsPaul Millsap
Golden State WarriorsDraymond Green

Remember, you can’t hide Kristaps on the other big because Andre Drummond will be guarding him.

I don’t see a Kristaps-Drummond front court having much success. Their size might seduce you into imagining a stout paint presence and a powerful brand of basketball, but that fantasy would be shattered after one pick-and-roll.

Is Andre Drummond the Answer to the Mavericks’ Defensive Problems?

The Dallas Mavericks (really, Kristaps Porzingis) struggle to guard the pick-and-roll. Kristaps doesn’t have the mobility to pressure the ball-handler and keep up with a rolling big. Would Andre Drummond solve that problem?

The numbers don’t paint a pretty picture. When guarding the roll man in pick-and-rolls, Drummond mirrors Kristaps’ effectiveness, or lack thereof. They both allow 1 point per possession on 50% shooting.

This is because Drummond has to play pick-and-roll defense the same way Kristaps does – with drop coverage that allows plenty of space between him, the ball-handler, and the roller. If the player attacks him, he struggles to move his feet fast enough to provide enough resistance.

Just take a look at these clips of Andre Drummond covering a pick-and-roll. Make sure you’re in an area where sound is appropriate. Some of these clips will make you laugh out loud.

Drummond’s overall defense is no better than Kristaps’ either. In the last 15 games, Andre Drummond has a defensive rating of 122.2. That’s 8th worst in the NBA among players who play at least 15 minutes per game. It’s basically identical to Kristaps Porzingis who has a defensive rating of 122.7 during that span.

(By the way, all of this is being said without even mentioning reports of Drummond being a disengaged stat-padder.)

If defense is the problem the Mavericks are trying to solve, Andre Drummond is not the answer.

Does Andre Drummond Fit the Mavericks’ Offense?

It’s hard to not be enamored by Andre Drummond. He’s averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. But how he gets those points is important. The Kristaps Porzingis Experience has shown that not every player has plug-and-play capabilities. Style matters.

We know that Drummond will be used as the roll-man in a pick-and-roll heavy offense. How does he perform in that role?

Let’s look at the Mavericks’ current roll men and compare them to Andre Drummond.

PlayerPPP Roll Man in PnRFG%TOV Freq
Maxi Kleber1.3552.65.0%
Kristaps Porzingis1.2054.76.7%
Willie Cauley-Stein1.1159.15.6%
Dwight Powell1.0957.18.7%
Andre Drummond0.8443.29.3%

Andre Drummond’s average of 0.84 points per possession as the roll man in pick-and-rolls puts him in the 14th percentile. That means he’s better than only 14% of the league. He also has a high turnover rate compared to the Mavericks’ current options.

Could Rick Carlisle work his magic and make Drummond a wizard in the pick-and-roll? Maybe. But the numbers make that a high-risk scenario. Why take that risk when the guy they currently have – Kristaps Porzingis – is already so much better? Kristaps’ efficiency is where you would hope Drummond gets to anyway, right? Well, you already have that.

So how does Andre Drummond get his points? Well, anyone who’s jumping from the Kristaps Porzingis train to the Andre Drummond one is going to find that they’re both on the same track.

Drummond’s average of 5.4 post-up possessions per game is third in the NBA. He averages .82 points per possession on those plays, which puts him in the 30th percentile. He makes less than 44% of those shots. That’s third-worst among players in the top 20 in post-up possessions per game.

His last season with Detroit, he was slightly better at .91 points per possession – good for the 49th percentile. But for consistently being in the top 15 in post shots per game, he’s been just a high volume, low efficiency post player.

How well do you think Drummond will fit in the Mavericks’ system as a high volume post player?

For all his strength and size, Drummond isn’t an efficient scorer even when he gets to the rim. This season, the largest percentage of his shots have been at the rim. He’s only made 54% of those shots. (For context, Kristaps Porzingis has made 74% of his shots at the rim.) Widen the distance to 3-10 feet, and Drummond is shooting below 40%.

Andre Drummond’s game does not fit what the Mavericks need right now. He’s a high-volume post player and an inefficient rim roller. And as frustrating as Kristaps can be when he demands post-up opportunities, he’s actually better than Drummond in those situations.

Andre Drummond doesn’t bring anything new to the Dallas Mavericks. He wouldn’t improve their pick-and-roll defense, he doesn’t fit in as a roll-man, and he would likely stall the Mavericks’ offense as a post player.

This is probably why they’re rumored to only be interested in him as a buyout candidate. It’s a low-risk play that could result in a pleasant surprise rather than a massive disappointment, which is what the Cavaliers currently have on their hands.