Andre Drummond

Bulls' Andre Drummond continues to make impact in limited role

Veteran center embraces bench role despite still believing he's an NBA starter

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In 2015-16, Andre Drummond played in the first of his two All-Star games and earned third team All-NBA honors by averaging 16.2 points and a league-high 14.8 rebounds.

His per-36 minute averages that season? 17.7 points and 16.2 rebounds.

Drummond’s per-36 minute averages this season? 16.8 points and 16.4 rebounds.

Granted, Drummond’s role is far different from when he served as a mainstay for the Detroit Pistons, leading the NBA in rebounding four times. He averaged 31.1 minutes over his 7-1/2 seasons in Detroit, while he is playing 13.8 minutes this season.

But the Bulls are benefitting from his buy-in and his energy.

“I got a lot left in the tank, man. Still very healthy. Still very young,” Drummond said Monday. “I still have a lot left to give. I know my role for this team and what I have to give. So I try to do it to the best of my ability.”

Don’t get it twisted. Drummond still believes he’s a starting center in the NBA. And that’s not a bad thing. This mindset and energy has helped him make an impact more often than not in his one-plus seasons with the Bulls.

And given how poorly the Bulls have started games this season, Drummond has played with a reserve group that has helped flip the script of several games this season.

“I think we just know our role,” Drummond said. “From the moment I got here last year to the present day, we made a pact to make sure we impact the game in any way possible when we get out there. Our job is to bring energy if we’re down or, if our team has it rolling, our job is to sustain that or do better. For us, we’re excited about the chemistry we have. We love playing alongside each other.”

That includes newfound chemistry with Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig, the latter of whom is back to a reserve role after starting seven games.

“Playing with those guys has been a lot of fun. Torrey is one of the better defenders in our league. Jevon is a great guard and great shooter and also a great vocal leader. He’s been great coming off the bench and leading us guys, along with myself and Torrey,” Drummond said. “I’m really enjoying the process with these guys. I think it’s going to be a great year for all of us.”

The Bulls’ bench ranks 15th with a net rating of plus-0.5.

Drummond surprised some by picking up his $3.36 million player option for this season. He’s quick to point out he did so before the Bulls re-signed Nikola Vucevic, who could’ve been an unrestricted free agent.

“Either way, it doesn’t matter. I really enjoy playing here,” Drummond said. “Just trying to win as many games as possible.”

Vucevic has consistently said he enjoys going against Drummond in practice and appreciates the mindset Drummond carries that he still believes he’s a starter. Even if Drummond returned to a team in which he isn’t.

“I’ve said this before: I feel like we have unfinished business here. I feel like we didn’t reach our full potential,” Drummond said. “So I wanted to come back and make something happen here.”

Through 14 games, with averages of 6.4 points on 56.9 percent shooting and 6.3 rebounds in just 13.8 minutes per game, that’s exactly what Drummond is doing.

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