Wine & Gold Go BIG
at the Deadline
Cavaliers Deal for Prolific Pistons Big Man Andre Drummond
If Cavalier fans were hoping for a “big” trade at the Deadline, they got one – both figuratively and literally.
Not long before the NBA’s Trade Deadline rang its closing bell, the Wine & Gold went big – Andre Drummond Big. Cleveland pried the the two-time All-Star center from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for center John Henson, guard Brandon Knight and the less favorable of Cleveland and Golden State’s 2023 second-round draft picks.
The move doesn’t come out of nowhere, but not many pundits and prognosticators had this one on their Bingo card.
Quite simply, Andre Drummond – an NBA All-Star in 2015-16 and again in ’17-18 – is inarguably the top rebounder in the game today.
He led the league in two of the previous three seasons and is easily on pace to do so again this year – tops on the offensive glass (averaging 4.6 offensive boards per – slightly ahead of Tristan Thompson’s 4.1) as well as on the defensive side (at 11.2rpg). In terms of total rebounds, Drummond has led the NBA for five straight seasons.
He also currently leads the league in double-doubles with 42 and 20-point, 20-rebound games with nine and is the only player to rank in the NBA’s top 10 in both steals (2.0spg) and blocks (1.7bpg).
In his seven-plus seasons with Detroit, the former UConn standout has averages of 14.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks in 591 career contests. In 2019-20, he’s averaging a career-best 17.8 points, a league-best 15.8 boards and 2.8 assists per.
Among Drummond’s astronomical numbers, there’s one more to consider: that he’s only 26 years old. Only Wilt Chamberlain had grabbed more rebounds at this stage of his life than Cleveland’s new big man.
The outgoing Cavaliers had some solid moments in their short stay in Cleveland, but neither was full entrenched.
Brandon Knight arrived in Cleveland via a midseason three-team deal at last year’s deadline and started the final 26 games across from Collin Sexton. He came to Training Camp healthy this season, but couldn’t find much traction under John Beilein, appearing in just 16 contests – with nary a start – and hasn’t played at all in the Cavs last 11 games, much of that time nursing a sore knee.
He returns to Detroit, where he himself was a Lottery pick back in 2011 and spent his first two seasons.
Henson’s Cleveland odyssey had an opposite trajectory.
The lithe eighth-year big man was acquired in a three-team deal last December but missed the remainder of the year with after undergoing wrist surgery. After an early-season hamstring injury, he finally started seeing consistent minutes in early-December and got his second start of the season – notching his lone double-double – on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
Over the years, the Cavaliers have been firsthand witnesses to Drummond’s prolific work.
In 35 regular and postseason matchups between the Central Division rivals, Drummond – the 9th overall pick in the 2012 Draft – has averaged 16.2 points and 13.0 boards.
In those 35 meetings, he’s posted 22 double-doubles and five games of at least 20 points and 20 boards – including two such outbursts last month – averaging an obscene 25.5 points and 21.5 boards in a home-and-home matchup in early January.
Now he joins the squad that’s tried to slow him down for the past eight campaigns – and it gives the Wine & Gold one of the burliest frontcourts in the Eastern Conference.
Between Drummond, Tristan Thompson – who’ll likely return to his role as a reserve – and Kevin Love, Cleveland now has three of the top 11 double-double guys in the East (with a surging Larry Nance Jr. looking to crash the top 20, having now doubled-up on eight occasions – including five of his last nine games).
All told, the newly-minted quartet has accumulated 91 double-doubles this year.
Drummond’s game isn’t perfect.
He can struggle to match up against certain smaller lineups, and his free throw issues have been well-documented – once missing 23 straight attempts earlier in his career and attempting 36 in a single game against Houston during the days of the “Hack-a-Drummond” strategy (which the Cavaliers actually employed during the 2016 postseason).
But Drummond has even transformed that part of his game. After combining to shoot .384 from the line through his first five seasons in the league, he’s hitting at a .593 clip over his past three.
The addition of the All-Star big man completely changes not just the Cavaliers’ current complexion, but the team’s future mindset.
Combined with their dynamic young backcourt of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr., along with a presumptive high first round pick this June (who’ll join an incoming rookie group that essentially includes Dylan Windler), the Cavaliers are poised for something big.
And it all started on a big day with a big deal for a big, bad man in the middle.