The Chicago Bulls have found their backup center.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, veteran big man Andre Drummond is finalizing a deal to join the Bulls. Drummond filled the role as the primary backup for Joel Embiid last season before he was traded as part of the Ben Simmons-James Harden swap to the Brooklyn Nets.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Drummond will be on a two-year, $6.6 million deal. The second season will be a player option.
I’ll be honest, this signing doesn’t draw much more than a monotone “meh” from me.
Drummond has struggled to find a home ever since his All-Star years in Detroit during the mid-2010s. The league has moved away from his traditional size and post-heavy game, which has led him to play for now five different teams since the Pistons traded him to Cleveland during the 2019-20 season.
The six-foot-ten big man just isn’t the most mobile, and his wide frame hasn’t proven to be as reliable of a rim protector as one would hope. With that said, he is certainly an upgrade for the Bulls at the backup center position, especially when we consider his toughness and rebounding prowess.
Anyway, more to come shortly!
Drummond has long been one of the NBA’s elite rebounders. He’s averaged 13.3 boards per game over his career, and this skill has gone a long way toward keeping him in the mix for jobs on contending teams around the league. Over his 73 games with the 76ers and Nets last season, he hauled in 9.3 rebounds a night, 3.1 of which came on the offensive glass.
The Chicago Bulls can undoubtedly use his rebounding ability after a 2021-22 campaign where they ranked in the bottom half of the league in total rebounding percentage and third-worst in offensive rebounding percentage. Outside of that, though, Drummond lacks any other elite skills.
Don’t get me wrong, his sheer size and physicality will be an upgrade off the bench. But Drummond doesn’t particularly fit with the style of play this Bulls team has shown they like to play. Not to mention, if the plan was to get a complementary presence to Vucevic, I’m not sure Drummond accomplishes that.
He’s another flat-footed big man who can be attacked by smaller ball-handlers in pick-and-roll coverage and switches. He also offers zero floor-spacing ability and has shot a dismal 47.3 percent from the free-throw line over his career. In other words, this isn’t some kind of backup center who we should expect to see on the floor to close games if Vucevic is struggling with a certain matchup.
So, yeah, as far as versatility goes, Drummond doesn’t offer much of that at all. The rim protection also just isn’t what you’d expect to be considering his imposing frame. As 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund noted on Twitter, Drummond still allowed a 59.4 percent clip within 6 feet of the basket last season, which isn’t much better than Vucevic.
Look, I’m not trying to be Mr. Buzzkill here. The Bulls could have done worse than Drummond, and the deal itself is pretty darn cheap. Drummond is just a somewhat odd fit when we consider all the holes this team is trying to fill. But, to his credit, he did look comfortable in a reserve spot at times last season, so let’s hope he continues to come into his own as a backup big.