And All That Jazz: the Style and Grace of Andre Drummond

If you’re not super-familiar with the NBA or basketball in general, or maybe you’re just a casual fan, you may be inclined to think that professional players should be great at most aspects of the game. Then you really watch a game and notice that some players are just not suited for some specific jobs on the court. Take for instance the job of the Center. He’s basically there to grab rebounds, win tipoffs, and get high percentage shots like dunks and put-backs after misses. So when a play collapses and the Center is out there on an island, what is he to do? Andre Drummond, two-time all star of the Cleveland Cavaliers, answered for us. What transpired was a thing of beauty.

Andre Drummond is one of the best rebounders in recent memory. He has especially been great on his own glass, leading the league in offensive rebounds each of the last seven seasons save for last year when he was second. Hassan Whiteside played ten more games and came down with eight more rebounds. He’s a walking double-double, consistently putting up more than ten rebounds per game as well as regularly carrying the weight of his team’s scoring production. He’s fantastic at his job, if not wholly underappreciated due to the team he plays on. He’s there to clean up his friends’ mistakes. But what about his own misadventures? Let’s take a look.

Drummond receives a pass from Cedi Osman up at the three point line. Andre’s an athletic guy. He can move with the basketball, but usually its about twenty feet closer to the basket. His main foe will be Jonas Valanciunas, perched at the top of the paint, awaiting Drummond’s move.

What we have here is a colossal rift between the two big men. Just eyeballing it, I’m guessing you could fit about 1.18 Andre Drummonds in that space. Valanciunas is evoking memories of the story when Michael Jordan was guarding Muggsy Bogues, backed off and told him, “shoot it, you fuckin midget.” Bogues missed the shot and his career was never the same. Drummond is not given the same treatment, instead the Grizzlies’ center just kinda hangs out, too.

Osman, like Bilbo Baggins before him, goes there and back again. He appears to be the only Cav participating in this play, and makes damn sure we all know it.

…By sprinting around over the top of the stationary Drummond, back below the basket. He waves for a pass from the big man. Osman is more than capable of receiving said pass and putting up a high percentage shot below the rim. Drummond hesitates.

…And gives us his own little Thanosian “Fine, I’ll do it myself” when it WASN’T NECESSARY TO DO. He finally dribbles toward Valaciunas, and the epic showdown is about to begin. Two giants, prepared to collide in battle.

HANDLES, I REPEAT WE HAVE HANDLES. Drummond fakes to his right with all of the conviction of a paper bag trying to swim upstream. In doing so, Valanciunas reacts as though Drummond wrote him a formal letter regarding his intent to fake right and go left.

The world stands still as Drummond goes to his left and pursues the basket. Indicated by the hand-drawn arrow, you can see where he was and where he went, just in case we’re moving too fast here.

Brandon Clarke joins the fray as Drummond closes in on the goal. Valanciunas sticks an arm up to obscure the path. What comes next is a glorious recognition of the power of Drummond and the full ability of the human body.

He goes under the two defenders and looks to lay it up. The agility, the wherewithal, the sheer… oh dear…

Just a bit outside. Drummond narrowly misses the shot by about ten feet despite being about three feet from the hoop. The ball is so high that Drummond actually has time to set his feet and try to secure the… rebound?

Like I noted before, Drummond is pretty much a rebound god. But in this case, its not really a rebound as much as a lob pass away from the basket to himself. He does not come down with the ball. Memphis does and they run up court before the play by play analysts can figure out what the hell just happened.

Let’s watch the play unfold at regular speed and see just what went wrong and where it went wronger.

God bless NBA big men who can’t shoot to save their lives. They make some of us normal people feel just the slightest bit good about ourselves.

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