For the first time in Joel Embiid’s career, the Philadelphia 76ers have a capable backup center to keep the Sixers competitive in the Embiid-less minutes. This year, Andre Drummond is averaging 6.2 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. On top of this, Drummond is also stuffing the stat sheet on the defense, recording 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, accomplishing all of this in only 18.6 minutes per game. Drummond has come in and has been everything that Sixers fans could have ever asked him for. He has stayed ready to spell Embiid and has been able to step in and keep the Sixers competitive when Embiid is out of the game.
Beyond just providing excellent minutes as a backup to Joel Embiid, he also provides the Sixers with a capable big minute center in the nights where Embiid rests. In the 12 games, he has started, Drummond has averaged 9.0 points per game, 14.3 rebounds per game, and 2.8 assists per game in just under 30 minutes at 29.4 per game. Drummond has also contributed 1.0 steals per game and 1.8 blocks per game, providing a stable presence inside while allowing rookie Charles Bassey to get experience in some backup minutes.
Drummond also continues to stay ready. After averaging roughly 15 minutes a game since January 1st, Andre Drummond filled in for a resting Embiid and played 43 minutes in an overtime thriller with the Memphis Grizzlies on January 31st. In the game, a 122-119 win for Philadelphia, Drummond helped the Sixers win a statement-making game. Drummond scored 16 points and a whopping 23 rebounds in the win. On top of that, Drummond contributed 5 assists (showcasing his newfound passing ability), 3 blocks, and 2 steals, proving that when he is needed, he can show up for Philly.
Drummond has also bought into the Sixers culture, ranging from wearing a Paul Reed jersey at a Delaware Blue Coats game to praising the stars on his team like Tyrese Maxey. He even swallowed his pride and has shown nothing but support for his diminished role behind former rival and current MVP candidate Joel Embiid. Drummond’s arrival to Philly has changed both many fans’ views of him and Drummond’s mindset as a player. He embraces his role wholeheartedly as a mentor and a low-minute breath reliever for Embiid.
For the first time in a long time, Joel Embiid not being in the game does not mean that the 76ers are going to lose, and while a lot of that falls back on the incredible play of second-year point guard Tyrese Maxey, Drummond’s stabilization of the backup center role should not be overlooked. The upgrade he represents from Dwight Howard cannot be overlooked any further.