The Charlotte Hornets have the worst interior defense in the league, allowing 52.8 points in the paint so far this season. They also have rebounding problems as they’ve grabbed 40.9 boards per-game, a mark that is also the worst in the league.
One would think that a big, strong, physical center could help with those issues. Someone who is imposing in the paint and can protect the rim, and someone who is tenacious in their pursuit of rebounds.
That someone sounds a lot like Andre Drummond.
According to a report from Heavy.com – which cites unnamed “league sources” – the Hornets have locked on to Drummond as a potential trade target and have had interest in him for “at least a year.”
Drummond, 26, is a two-time All-Star and has led the league in rebounding three times, including in each of the past two seasons. So far this season, through 18 games, he’s averaging 17.8 points, 16.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per-game.
On a quick glance, Drummond looks like he’d be the perfect fit for the Hornets and an answer to many of their problems. But on a closer look, the idea of the Hornets acquiring Drummond doesn’t make much sense at all.
For starters, Drummond’s playing style doesn’t really mesh with what Hornets' head coach James Borrego wants to do. Drummond isn’t a three-point shooter, as he’s made just 10-of-78 shots from behind the arc over his eight-year career. He’s zero-from-10 from there this year. Borrego has asked his big men to expand their games, not minimize it. Cody Zeller is shooting more three's -- and making more of them -- this season than he ever has before.
Drummond also doesn’t play fast. The Pistons are the sixth worst team in pace rankings this season and 66.7 percent of all of Drummond's shots come with less than 15 seconds remaining on the shot clock.
Secondly, the Hornets are in a rebuilding mode, and while Drummond is just 26, he’s been in the league since he was 19. There’s a lot of miles on him – more than 17,200 minutes – and centers like him typically don’t age well. The core of the Hornets’ rebuild is much younger than that. When players like P.J. Washington, Miles Bridges, Malik Monk and Devonte’ Graham begin to hit their primes, Drummond would likely be past his.
There’s also the money hurdle. Drummond makes about $27.1 million this season and has a player-option to make $28.75 million next season. If the Hornets were going to dole out that type of cash, wouldn’t they have been better off just paying fan-favorite Kemba Walker what he deserved instead of letting him bolt for Boston?
A trade for Drummond would also be difficult to pull off because of his salary figure. The only Hornets’ player who matches up with him salary-for-salary in a trade would be Nic Batum, and the Pistons would likely want much more – like a young player or two, or a draft pick – in exchange for a player who’s been a franchise centerpiece for them. Giving up prospects or future draft selections for a veteran like Drummond is risky, to say the least, and wouldn't really jive with what we've seen general manager Mitch Kupchak do so far during this transition phase that the Hornets are in.
Drummond is an exceptional center and his skills could help a lot of teams, but he and the Hornets simply don’t make sense for each other.