Cavs: Andre Drummond gets one first-place vote for DPOY

Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond talks with players on the Atlanta Hawks bench in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond talks with players on the Atlanta Hawks bench in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond is a pretty solid interior defender and has good team defensive instincts. But nobody could truthfully put him in the Defensive Player of the Year mix.

Leading into the NBA season’s novel coronavirus-induced hiatus back in March, and what would ultimately be the end of 2019-20 for the Cleveland Cavaliers, center Andre Drummond did often show quality team defensive feel. As a rotator on the interior, and most of which was displayed with the Detroit Pistons pre-trade deadline, Drummond had piled up steals.

In this now-past season for Drummond, he averaged 1.9 steals per contest, and at the time of COVID-19-induced hiatus, he was actually second in the NBA in total steals. For a big man being a 5, that was particularly noteworthy, and Drummond’s 7-foot-6 wingspan often helps him in that sense, and he’ll alter his share of shots in the paint.

Drummond does typically hold his own in the post individually on the defensive end as well, although nobody would say he’s a complete lockdown guy in that realm. Albeit I’m not going to slight him on that.

However, as far as today’s NBA goes, Drummond is not a 5 that is very capable of switching on to perimeter players for a few dribbles respectably when needed to prevent an open jumper. He often does drop anyway, but that can simply lead to open shots.

Drummond is not a player whose closeouts when needed are necessarily a positive when he’s asked to defend 5’s that can space the floor, either. So in the individual sense, he’s pretty capable on the interior/against more traditional centers, but in certain matchups, Drummond is fairly limited in the individual sense.

But again, his a very active team defender on the interior that does get his hands in passing lanes, leading to steals/deflections. Drummond also had 1.6 blocks per game and has averaged that clip over his eight-year career, which has been almost entirely with the Pistons to this point before he was dealt to the Cavs, a squad he’s played eight games with.

A huge positive when it comes to Drummond is how he’s led the NBA in rebounding three times in his career, and honestly, would have in 2019-20 as well but he hasn’t been a participant in the NBA’s Orlando restart. He would’ve done so this go-round, too, though, and led the league in rebounds per game with 15.2.

Anyway, while Drummond’s interior and team defensive instincts more so in passing lanes do stand out, and he does alter his share of shots throughout games in the paint, nobody would put Drummond in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, one would think.

The Cleveland Cavaliers center in Drummond did receive one first-place vote for DPOY, though.

In what was a shocking occurrence, Drummond actually got one first-place vote for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, per an NBA press release.

In terms of the voting tally breakdown, here was that for your viewing, as h/t The Athletic‘s Travonne Edwards.

I mean, congrats to Drummond, but this is weird. The fact that Drummond had only two total voting points less than Patrick Beverley, one of the league’s best guard defenders, and Marcus Smart, who is one of the most versatile defenders in the entire league, is beyond me.

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It’s nonsensical that Smart, a 2019 NBA First-Team All-Defensive squad member and a player that should be this season, too, did not get one first-place vote, yet Drummond, who has nowhere near the impact on-ball, does.

Smart can defend 1-4 exceptionally well, and does not do so while compromosing team defensive structure, either, and additionally, Drummond had the same amount of first-place votes as Ben Simmons. Meanwhile, Bam Adebayo, arguably the league’s best defensive 5 overall, had two votes.

The aforementioned Simmons is arguably THE most switchable defender in the league, though that likely goes to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won this year’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, and is almost certainly going to win the NBA’s MVP for the second straight season, too.

Antetokounmpo at 6-foot-11 is again, uber-switchable, and was a do-everything player for the Milwaukee Bucks defense, which had the best defensive rating in the league.

Drummond again had a bunch of steals for a big and was eighth among qualified players in defensive win-shares, per Basketball Reference, in 2019-20, but another player in the same realm as him was Kawhi Leonard, who had the same amount of points but no first or second-place votes.

He was still again when he was out there one of the league’s top defensive wings/players in general, and Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez, who is a far more valuable rim protector than Drummond, had no first or second-place votes, either.

So I guess hats off to Andre Drummond, who I’d imagine will eventually pick up his $28.8 million player option for next season, given that he previously stated that he fully intends to do so. Drummond would seemingly not be as definitive in an interview with Julie Stewart-Binks for a fubo Sports Network special, as h/t Forbes‘ Evan Dammarell, but I’d expect him to eventually do so.

Anyhow, I give Dre credit for averaging a career-best 17.7 points per game in 2019-20, as a positive side note, too.

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But him receiving a first-place vote for the Defensive Player of the Year was very odd, to paint it lightly.