It's Rebounding Help You Want, It's Rebounding Help You Get With Andre Drummond

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It’s Rebounding Help You Want, It’s Rebounding Help You Get With Andre Drummond

Chicago Bulls

We’re all very good at some things and very bad at others.

Some crunch numbers as fast as calculators but can’t remember a single direction to save their life. Others can make a picture-perfect sponge cake yet burn scrambled eggs every time. For the Chicago Bulls’ Andre Drummond, he can rebound a basketball with shoes on his hands and gloves on his feet. But don’t ask him to do much else.

Despite two All-Star appearances with the Detroit Pistons, Drummond is far from the NBA’s ideal big man. As the game shifts more and more toward a pace-and-space style of play, he’s found himself in search of one home after another. First, it was Cleveland. Then, Los Angeles. The 76ers were up next before they quickly traded him to Brooklyn. Now, when Drummond takes the floor in a Bulls jersey this October, it will be his fourth team in six years.

Whether it be his defensive deficiencies or inability to finish inside (his FG% at the rim ranked in the NBA’s 33rd percentile in each of the past five seasons, per Cleaning the Glass), Drummond has repeatedly struggled to become the dependable center many once hoped he could become. So why the heck does he keep ending up in NBA rotations?

It’s those freakin’ rebounds.

Indeed, as most should, Drummond has drawn on his strengths as opposed to his weakness. He’s continued to be one of the NBA’s premier rebounders since entering the league in 2012, averaging 13.3 rebounds per game over his career thus far.

The confidence Drummond has in his ability to crash the glass is evident, so much so that he threw himself in the GOAT discussion in a recent interview with CT Insider: “I’m on my way. By the time I retire, I’ll go down as the best rebounder ever — if not already,” Drummond told Mike Anthony.

As crazy as it might sound, Drummond could have quite the convincing case to make whenever his career does come to a close. While the big man might only rank 46th on the all-time total rebounds list, he currently ranks 11th in all-time rebounds per game (13.26). This puts him ahead of Bulls legend Dennis Rodman and one spot behind Elgin Baylor. Talk about good company.

Not to mention, if we want to dive into the advanced analytics, Drummond has already earned his fair share of respect. The Athletic’s John Hollinger recently took a closer look at the league’s top board-getters, and he shared quite the staggering stat line:

By my statistical method of 2002, he certainly would rank as one of the top rebounders in history. Drummond led the league in Rebound Rate four times and leads it again this year. For the years where we have Rebound Rate calculations, Drummond’s 24.6 percent career mark is the highest of all time.

Regardless of where Drummond stands on the all-time leaderboard, there is no question he will be at the top of the totem pole in Chicago. The Bulls sat an underwhelming 17th in rebounding percentage as a team last season. Their efforts on the offensive glass proved to be particularly dismal, as their 24.9 OREB% sat 3rd-worst in the league, per NBA Stats.

Outside of big man Nikola Vucevic – who is one of the better defensive-rebounders in the game – the Bulls relied heavily on Lonzo Ball in the rebounding department. Vucevic’s 11.0 rebounds per game led the team, while Ball’s average of 5.4 over his 35 games played finished second. The Bulls will still need someone like Ball or Patrick Williams to help carry the load in the starting lineup, but they now at least have a proven rebounding presence when Vucevic heads to the bench.

We saw how much of a difference Drummond can make for a struggling squad when he showed up in Brooklyn last season. The Nets ranked one spot behind Chicago with the 18th-best REB% before acquiring Drummond. Then, in the remaining 27 games of the season, the Nets had the 9th-best REB%, which was fueled largely by their 6th-best OREB%. Drummond’s overall on/off impact in the TRB% (total rebound percentage) column sat at a +5.8 after arriving in Brooklyn, per Basketball-Reference. He had a similarly solid +2.7 in his 49 games with the 76ers.

Now, let’s not forget, that doesn’t mean he’s a complete net positive when on the floor. The flaws in other areas of Drummond’s game will only allow him to thrive in the right environment. Fortunately for the Bulls, however, they might have that environment.

The expectation for Drummond will be to check into the game and eat up rebounds (I’d also be remiss not to mention that he’s a good screener and underrated passer – two skill sets that should fit in with how this team likes to play). And, hey, if the Bulls’ perimeter defenders can stay healthy and make his life easier, then perhaps he can swat a shot or two. But between their investment in Vucevic and Donovan’s perceived willingness to experiment with smaller lineups, Drummond’s role should be easily defined and rather low stakes. Grab boards, play big, and get out.

In other words, we shouldn’t head into this season viewing Drummond as some kind of significant difference-making addition. He isn’t. But if the offseason is all about improving, Drummond at least has me feeling like they did that in one key area this summer.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.