Should the New Orleans Pelicans pursue Andre Drummond in free agency?

Andre Drummond, Chicago Bulls. Willy Hernangomez, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Andre Drummond, Chicago Bulls. Willy Hernangomez, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With the 2023 NBA Draft now officially behind us, our focus has turned to free agency. For the New Orleans Pelicans, they spent the draft addressing one of their biggest weaknesses (shooting) by drafting Jordan Hawkins and signing undrafted rookie Landers Nolley II.

Given how important shooting is in today’s game, they will likely continue to add snipers in free agency. However, their recent acquisitions have made it possible for them to prioritize one of their other roster deficiencies: rim protection. Last season, the Pelicans were dead-last in opponent rim accuracy (per Cleaning the Glass).

Since a bulk of rim protection is provided by big men, New Orleans will probably be looking at centers/power forwards when seeking to fortify this area in free agency. They will also need to make sure that this player is someone that they can get with their bi-annual exception or full mid-level exception.

One big that could potentially be in their price range is Andre Drummond. But the question now becomes: is Drummond a good rim protector?

To answer this question, let’s look at the three statistics we identified in our last post that we can use to measure a player’s rim protection prowess.

1. Block Percentage (BLK%)

According to Cleaning the Glass, Drummond’s block percentage (BLK%) was in the 57th percentile for his position. However, the year before, he was in the 82nd percentile in this category when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers and the 71st percentile when he was with the Brooklyn Nets. If you look further back at his numbers, you’ll see the other years of his career are more in line with his 2021-22 season than his 2022-23 season (as it pertains to BLK%). So, that’s a good sign that his block rate could pick back up next season.

2. DIFF (inside of six feet)

Last season, players shot 2.4 percent worse than expected (aka “DIFF”) on shots inside of six feet when they were contested by Drummond (per In fact, in every season since 2017, players have shot worse than expected on shots inside of six when they were contested by Drummond. For comparison, Jonas Valanciunas’ DIFF last season was 0.0%. That means players shot the exact same percentage they were expected to shoot on shots contested by Valanciunas inside of six feet.

3. On/Off Opponent Rim Frequency

Lastly, we have our rim deterrence statistic. Last season, Drummond placed in the 86th percentile for his position in on/off opponent rim frequency (per Cleaning the Glass). When he was on the floor for the Chicago Bulls, 2.4% less of opponent’s shots came around the rim than they did when he was off the floor.

Overall, while Drummond’s rim protection footprint isn’t cataclysmic, he does provide some tangible value in that area. At his price point (which should be pretty low), the Pelicans should definitely consider pursuing Drummond in free agency.

Next. 10 Players the Pelicans gave up on way too soon. dark