Any time you share a basketball court with LeBron James, it's hard to come in anywhere but second in terms of physical shape and athletic ability. But Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond finds King James looking up to him in more ways than height.
The Pistons were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first-round Eastern Conference Playoff matchup, despite keeping pace in each of the four games, but we can still marvel at the big man's off-the-charts athleticism and the rebounding ability he displayed throughout the series.
In a recent article, ESPN's Tom Haberstroh points out that Drummond has won 69.4 percent of jump balls since he arrived in the NBA four years ago. That's an absurd rate, made even more ridiculous when compared to guys like Antonio Davis, who wins jump balls at just a 39.5-percent clip. Drummond, who stands a hulking 6-foot-11 and weighs 280 pounds, moves and jumps like a guard—something we've never seen before from a big man.
Here are a couple more stats from Haberstroh's piece that will freak you out: Drummond has a 30-inch vertical jump. He shuffles laterally better than 87 percent of NBA guys who have been tested at P3 Performance, a basketball training facility in California. And he generates "more force in the lateral plane, which helps to power his way through traffic, than any other big man tested at P3."
Because of the perimeter player-like athleticism trapped in his big man's body, Drummond not only secures jump balls for his team at a ridiculous percentage, but he also cleans up on the glass like a basketball vacuum.
According to ESPN, Drummond rebounded 24.5 percent of missed shots this season, more than 2 percentage points better than the Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside, who placed second. His ability to jump off either foot while maintaining body control puts Drummond in great rebounding position almost all of the time, as you can see in the video above, in which he grabs four rebounds on a single possession.
Drummond's time at P3 (he spent six weeks training there this past off-season) gives you a glimpse at how different the Pistons star is, athletically. Above, you can see how effortlessly, and high, he jumps, especially when with a running start. There's no wasted movement, just upward explosion.
Another drill at which Drummond excels, increasing his ability to move laterally at the drop of a dime, is shown above. He is instructed not to move until the trainer drops a tennis ball, then to slide in the right direction. His reaction time is measured, and, as we mentioned earlier, he does this better than 87 percent of the 100-plus NBA players tested at P3.
Here's another look at Drummond working on his lateral movement at P3, running the Shuttle Drill. It's legitimately awe-inspiring to watch a man of his size move so gracefully, then see it translate to the court in his ability to out-jump taller and stronger men in the paint and gobble up every rebound that comes his way. No matter who comes along next, Drummond is sure to go down as a unique big man in the NBA.
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