There is a developing groundswell of support for Andre Drummond as an alternative to Damian Lillard for Rookie of the Year.
This is a borderline insane notion, of course. Drummond is a big man who doesn’t even start for the awful Detroit Pistons, who harbor only faint playoff hopes despite playing in the Eastern Conference. Lillard is a point guard, the toughest position in the NBA, and is playing it so well that the Portland Trail Blazers are on the cusp of the Western Conference playoff race.
Drummond’s supporters point to his PER of 22.82, which is highest among rookies. And this week they had another strong stat to hang their hats on.
On Tuesday vs. Milwaukee, the 19-year-old Drummond had 18 points and 18 rebounds in 28 minutes. Using highly specific parameters, ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh determined that Drummond joined Dennis Rodman and Jayson Williams as the only players to collect 18 points and boards off the bench in that few minutes since the 1985-86 season.
No mention of what brand of sneakers each player was wearing, or if the games were on weeknights or weekends.
There also was no mention that Drummond’s performance came in a 27-point home loss. Or that he missed his only free throw and is a resounding 15.4 percent from the line this month. Or that he was partially responsible for allowing Samuel Dalembert’s first double-double of the season, which contributed to his minus-21 for the game.
Look, we like Drummond. If you read these rankings on a regular basis, you know we have made that painstakingly clear. The Pistons rolled the dice on a talented physical specimen with a questionable motor and came up “Yo.” He clearly belongs in the Rising Stars at All-Star Weekend. (By the way, we bleeping NAILED that.)
But let’s not use one outstanding statistical performance in a blowout loss to make the case for the kid, OK?
Barton is one of five rookies on the Trail Blazers, along with Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland and Victor Claver. And in a home loss to Washington on Jan. 21, Barton somehow posted an 11 trillion.
For 11 minutes, 16 seconds – 6:25 in the second quarter and the first 4:51 of the fourth – Barton ran around and did next to nothing. In addition to not taking a shot, no rebound bounced his way. He didn’t take the ball from someone or give it away.
Barton appeared to be matched up with fellow rookie Bradley Beal and Jordan Crawford, although it was hard to tell as Crawford scored seven points in the first four minutes of the final period. And he didn’t even foul anybody, which is hard for a rookie to do.
Barton obliterated the season best of 8 trillion, which was shared by Brooklyn’s Josh Childress and San Antonio’s Matt Bonner. It will take a superhuman lack of effort to unseat him.
So if you want to call attention to rare boxscore lines by rookies, call attention to all of them.
On to the rankings.