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Andre Drummond Tugs on Dwight Howard’s Superman Cape

January 22nd, 2013 at 7:00 AM
By Phil Fattore

'Dwight Howard' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: The last two games for Pistons rookie center Andre Drummond have been in a word: "Howard'esque." More specifically, Dwight "Howard'esque." Against the New York Knicks last Thursday, playing only 23 minutes, Drummond posted a 10-point, 11-rebound double double. Against the Boston Celtics, with only 20 minutes on the floor, Drummond posted 16 points with four alley-oop dunks, seven rebounds, and in a very un-Dwight-Howard manner went 6-8 from the free throw line. 

Stat-less attributes such as Andre Drummond's athletic ability, raw skills, and an instinctual knack for timing the basketball perfectly off the glass have become commonplace comparisons when sizing up the rookie center alongside Dwight "Superman" Howard. But while eye-ball test comparisons are great, there's a reason the scorers table exists. With 40 games of the Pistons' 2012-2013 season in the books, a look into the respective rookie numbers of Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard is telling of a Pistons rookie that has moved past tugging on Howard's "Superman" cape, and is nearly on the heels of Howard's red boots. 
Dwight Howard's 2004-2005 rookie averages follow the narrative of a 19-year-old man-child. A freak of nature that averaged a double double of 12.0 points per game, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. Rookie Howard also averaged 32.6 minutes per game, with his three biggest rookie scoring outings coming on 40-plus minute games. Howard scored 24 points in 42 minutes on 11/26/2004, 23 points in 42 minutes on 12/06/2004, and 29 points in 40 minutes on 03/16/2004. 
The 2004-2005 Orlando Magic had Steve Francis and Grant Hill averaging 21.3 and 19.7 points per game respectively, Howard was the team's only true low post option. Howard got a lot of touches in his rookie season, and was second only to Steve Francis in total minutes played with 2670 minutes on the season. 
Andre Drummond hasn't been averaging a double double in his rookie season. With his 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds per game average the Pistons rookie is much further away than a few decimals off of Dwight Howard's rookie statement. Isolating the scoring and rebounding numbers, Drummond's averages aren't even close. So, how can Andre Drummond's rookie season compare to Dwight Howard's 2004-2005 rookie season? Simple answer: playing time.
Rookie Howard didn't record a single game in 2004-2005 where the Magic played him less than 20 minutes. Andre Drummond has already played 20 games for the Pistons where he hasn't been on the floor for more than 20 minutes, and has only played 30 minutes or more twice so far in this 40-game-old Pistons season. Andre Drummond has yet to start a game for the Pistons whereas Howard started all 82 games for the 2004-2005 Orlando Magic.  
Taking a closer look through Dwight Howard's game-by-game rookie season, there were only 22 games on the 2004-2005 schedule that saw Howard play minute totals that began with the word "twenty." In that 22-game span, averaging 25.5 minutes per game, rookie Howard averaged 9.09 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. Still impressive stats, but as Andre Drummond's 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks averages have come while the 19-year-old is averaging only 19.8 minutes per game, the gap between the past and present rookie centers begins to close. 
As it stands right now, Andre Drummond is close to averaging one point and one rebound every two-and-a-half minutes for the season. While the mathematical principle of exponential growth would say that Drummond's current point and rebound averages would jump nearly five points and five rebounds if he were able to average the same 32.6 minutes per game that rookie Dwight averaged during the 2004-2005 season, let's not forget about factors like foul trouble, fatigue and "off nights" that would play a factor with extended game time. Still, what all this number talk should tell you is that if Andre Drummond were given comparable playing time, he would have more than a chance to match Dwight Howard's double double rookie averages. 
Currently ranked tenth in the Eastern Conference standings, the Pistons are still in the hunt for the playoffs. As the Pistons have won six of their last nine games with Andre Drummond coming off the bench, head coach Lawrence Frank will likely continue using Drummond in the "bench spark" role that he's been playing all season. If the season's outcome begins moving further away from a potential playoff birth, there's no reason not to think that Andre Drummond will not only be awarded with a slew of starting lineup appearances, but also more playing time in general. If and when that happens, look for Drummond's numbers to move past the speculation of this article's argument, and into a hard-stat "Howard'esque" comparison. 
Until then, Andre Drummond will continue to be the most exciting part of this young Pistons team. Especially when Drummond throws down one of his near-signature alley-oop dunks.
Tags: Andre Drummond, Basketball, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Dwight Howard, NBA

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