clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Has the Andre Drummond resurgence already faded?

Bulls going small-ball more often

Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Should we be worried about Andre Drummond?

The Chicago Bulls’ 29-year-old backup center was signed to be a big body (6’10”, 279 pounds) who remained an intimidating force around the rim, and at least be an upgrade over Tristan Thompson.

Drummond had gotten off to a fast start through his first six contests, averaging 9.0 points on 53.5% shooting from the field, 10.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals in just 16.8 minutes a night. Then he sprained his shoulder against San Antonio Spurs Zach Collins, which sidelined him for the subsequent six contests.

Even though the Bulls have 2 more ‘pure’ centers on the roster, instead Billy Donovan opened up rotation minutes for 6’6” small-ball five Derrick Jones Jr., a hyper-athletic, lengthy player who automatically surrenders a certain size and weight advantage to most opposing centers but is still a solid rim-roller.

And since coming back, Drummond’s numbers have taken a major slide. He is averaging 5.1 points on 53.1% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, and 0.3 steals in 12.4 minutes a night across his past 12 contests. He has played less than nine minutes in his past three consecutive games, as DJJ appears to have more or less supplanted him as head coach Billy Donovan’s backup center of choice.

As Annie Costabile of The Chicago Sun-Times notes, Billy Donovan has cited an interest in exploring a more expedient small-ball lineup, with Jones playing at the five, as his motivation for adjusting his reserve rotation of late.

“That group [with Drummond at center] was not great in Sacramento, So when you’re coming out of the half, you’re saying, ‘Let’s do something different.’ I have a lot of confidence in Andre, he’s been a really good guy. Like any of these players, they want to be out there on the floor. But you’re not going to be able to play everybody all the time.”

Subsequently Jones, not Drummond, was the Bulls’ backup center in that Kings game’s second half.

Then in the following game, against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, Drummond scored four quick points, pulled down two rebounds, and swatted away one block during a five-minute stretch from the end of the game’s first quarter through the top of the second frame. Drummond was part of a terrific two-man game with former Brooklyn Nets teammate Goran Dragic.

But in that stretch Drummond also had 4 fouls and a turnover. He played just three minutes in the second half.

So what’s going on? Perhaps Drummond is still hurt, or simply ineffective and fulfilling worst-case forecasts of signing over the summer.

But while the small-ball adjustment may work sometimes, it cannot be the actual long-term solution as a back-up five. Jones or Green could probable handle themselves okay as backup power forwards in spot playoff minutes against most other Eastern Conference teams, but using both players feels a bit redundant.

If this is his new normal, maybe Chicago should consider waiving one of its do-nothing deep-bench centers, Marko Simonovic and/or Tony Bradley. If the Bulls go away from Drummond and those 2 they can’t get in now, there really is no point to keeping them on the roster. Then could take a gander at signing a free agent big man who’s a bit taller than 6’6” for some Drummond insurance. Those guys are available, for good reason as the league has shifted importance away from centers-only defenders. Two notable names would be Hassan Whiteside and DeMarcus Cousins.