Just six other players have matched the per-minute scoring, rebounding and blocking rates Andre Drummond posted last season (minimum: 400 minutes).
Most of them are in the Hall of Fame. Bill Walton did it ages 22 and 24, Robert Parish at 25, Hakeem Olajuwon at 27 and 28 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 28. Another likely future Hall of Famer, Dwight Howard, did it at 23 and 24. Marvin Webster put together such a season, too, at age 24.
All in all, it’s pretty great company. Those are difficult marks to reach, and the few who’ve played so well have done so in their primes.
Drummond did it at 19.
So, it’s no wonder the Pistons hold him in such high esteem.
Joe Dumars, via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:
“There are guys who, a pecking order of things we would or wouldn’t do, Drummond is certainly one of those guys we wouldn’t move,” said Dumars, who wouldn’t claim anyone else as “untouchable”.
I don’t really like the idea of an untouchable player. What if the Heat offer LeBron James for Drummond? The Pistons wouldn’t say no.
Of course, Miami wouldn’t trade LeBron for Drummond, and perhaps I’m being too literal. Drummond has the potential to become the type of singular force teams don’t trade for packages of lesser players, and those top-end players are rarely traded for each other. So, obviously, finding a worthwhile trade involving Drummond would be extremely difficult, perhaps to the point of impossible, even if the Pistons were willing to deal him.
Regardless of the semantics, Drummond isn’t going anywhere. But what about Greg Monroe, whom Dumars didn’t mention?
some teams inquired about Monroe before the draft and were met with a flat “no” as to his availability.
Monroe has proven more than Drummond, but he’s older, heading into free agency next offseason and has shown few indications of defensive development. He’s the type of player who’s good enough to command a package full of valuable, but lesser, players, but not too good to preclude the Pistons from trading him.
The Pistons obviously aren’t rushing to trade Monroe, but it’s certainly more likely than them trading Drummond.
When the Warriors put five players expected to be in the playoff rotation on the floor during the regular season, they outscored opponents by 20.9 points per 100 possessions.
No other team even neared that level with five of its own playoff-rotation players.
The second-place Spurs (+13.1 adjusted net rating) were closer to 10th place than first place.
But Golden State’s supremacy obviously took a hit when Stephen Curry got hurt. How do the Warriors rate without him in the rotation?
As I did before the first round, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank Western Conference playoff teams by net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only lineups that include five players in the team’s postseason rotation. Both the regular season and first round factored.
I wrote more about the Thunder’s and Spurs’ adjusted ratings yesterday. The East will come after its second-round series are set.
For now, here’s each Western Conference team’s rating, from the regular season adjusted to only lineups that include five players projected to be in the second-round rotation:
2. San Antonio Spurs
- Offensive rating: 110.5 to 110.0
- Defensive rating: 99.4 to 96.1
- Net rating: +11.1 to +13.9
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
- Offensive rating: 113.6 to 117.3
- Defensive rating: 106.0 to 104.6
- Net rating: +7.6 to +12.7
1. Golden State Warriors
- Offensive rating: 114.9 to 119.7 to 109.1
- Defensive rating: 104.1 to 98.8 to 103.8
- Net rating: +10.8 to +20.9 to +5.3
5. Portland Trail Blazers
- Offensive rating: 108.9 to 111.0 to 110.3
- Defensive rating: 108.2 to 107.9 to 107.5
- Net rating: +0.7 to +3.1 to +2.8
- By this metric, there’s a clear main event and undercard here – at least if the Spurs and Thunder don’t keep playing like they did last night.
- Golden State obviously takes a big tumble without Curry, but this measure shows the limit of saying the Warriors got outscored by 3.7 points per 100 possessions without Curry during the regular season. Golden State’s other top players – Draymond Green (88%), Klay Thompson (85%), Andrew Bogut (85%), Harrison Barnes (66%) and Andre Iguodala (60%) – played a majority of their minutes with Curry. Put them on the court more in these Curry-less games, and it’ll help.
- With Curry in the rotation (and Ian Clark and Brandon Rush out), the Warriors’ adjusted offensive/defensing/net ratings shoot right back up into the stratosphere: 119.8/98.7/+21.1. Golden State must just holds its ground until Curry returns. This measure suggests the Warriors can against Portland, especially with home-court advantage also in their favor.
Portland has wildly exceeded expectations this season, making the playoffs as the five seed and getting past a banged-up Clippers team to the second round. But the NBA does not do Cinderellas well, this will be the end of the road. Here are the four questions we’re asking heading into this series.
1) When will Stephen Curry return? If Portland has a chance in this series, they need to do a lot of damage before the past-and-future MVP returns from his sprained knee. The question is when will that be? Curry is out for Game 1 and has yet to do any on court work, but Steve Kerr would not rule him out for Game 2 on Tuesday, although that may be gamesmanship as much as anything. But after Game 2 the teams are off for four days until the Saturday, May 7, and that may be enough time for him to return. Whenever he does come back, the dynamics change and the Warriors become a much more dangerous, much better team — one Portland can’t handle. The Blazers need to get all the wins early in this series they can.
Which isn’t very easy, Curry or no.
2) How will the Warriors defend Damian Lillard? When Lillard has gone up against his hometown team — he’s from Oakland — he averaged 36.5 points per game this season. Expect Klay Thompson to draw the assignment to cover him at the start of games, but also expect the Warriors to steal a page from the Clippers’ strategy and trap Lillard and C.J. McCollum each time they come off a pick. The idea is to force the ball out of the hands of the two best playmakers and make Al-Farouq Aminu or Maurice Harkless or anyone else beat you. Aminu and Harkless will find the Warriors defense works on a string better than the Clippers and their shots will get contested.
However, most of the time, the Warriors will switch the pick-and-roll, which they usually do (especially when they go small) and Lillard will find Draymond Green in his face. Blazers coach Terry Stotts has to find ways to get Lillard playing downhill off those picks to have a chance.
3) Can the Trail Blazers hit their threes? In Portland’s win over Golden State in the regular season (just after the All-Star break), they put up 137 points and made it rain threes — the Trail Blazers need to do that again. However, the Warriors were one of the better teams in the league at defending the arc this season, holding opponents to 33.2 percent from deep (second best in the league) and allowing the second fewest corner threes (although they are more willing to allow threes above the arc). Portland does not have a good enough defense to stop Golden State consistently even without Curry, they will just have to outscore the Warriors, and to do that it has to rain threes again.
4) How will Portland defend Klay Thompson and Draymond Green? Both of these key Warriors cogs had strong regular seasons against Portland — Green averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 8.8 assists, while Thompson averaged 29.3 points shooting 59.4 percent from three. Obviously, that was with Curry on the floor drawing defenders, but Portland is not exactly known for their lock-down defense. Without Curry, expect Aminu to get a lot of time on Thompson, but that alone is not going to slow him. Also, expect the Warriors to post up Thompson, Shaun Livingston, or anyone else that Lillard and McCollum guard — the hardest part about defending Golden State is there is no place to hide weak defenders. The Warriors will expose the Portland defense.
Prediction: Warriors in 6. And that assumes Curry is out until Game 5, if he is back earlier than that the series likely ends in 5.
The Heat and Hornets are clearly tiring of each other, six games of testiness culminating with Game 7 today.
ESPN sources say that one of the factors that ramped up the tension between the teams stems from Miami complaints to the highest levels of the league office after Game 4 about what the Heat deemed to be favorable officiating for Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker.
Lin and Walker relentlessly driven to the basket. That’s why they’ve attempted so many free throws. If Miami wants to keep them off the line, trap them harder on the perimeter.
That said, this is part of playoff gamesmanship. If the Heat plant a seed with referees – through the league office or otherwise – that Lin and Walker are drawing too many fouls, maybe that affects a call today. With the margins so narrow, every little bit helps.
Oklahoma City has more than a few adjustments to make after a brutal defensive effort in Game 1 of their series against San Antonio, but at the top of the list is sticking with LaMarcus Aldridge on defense.
He was killing them from the midrange, and more than half of his looks were uncontested — the Thunder know he can knock down that shot, right?
It was a fantastic performance from Aldridge; we’ll see if he faces tougher defense in Game 2.