Andre Drummond

Bulls' Andre Drummond relishing ‘twin tower' approach

Veteran big man teaming with Nikola Vučević to try to wreak post-trade deadline havoc

Andre Drummond has played well alongside Nikola Vučević.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

ORLANDO --- Andre Drummond smiled.

"I'm still here," he said late Thursday night in Memphis, Tenn., after the Chicago Bulls defeated the Grizzlies.

Not that the veteran big man sweated the small stuff. Drummond's approach to Thursday's trade deadline was simple.

"I treated (trade deadline day) like I treat any other day, went through my routine and prepared like I was playing (Thursday)," Drummond said.

Drummond didn't just play. He started the second half alongside fellow big man Nikola Vučević for the third time in four halfs and stuffed the box score with 21 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes, making 10 of 11 shots.

"He was dominant," DeMar DeRozan said.

Drummond enjoyed a stress-free deadline day for multiple reasons. He's in his 12th season and, as a veteran of two trades including one as recently as February 2022 from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, he understands the business of basketball. Like most veterans, he has learned to control what he can control.

And perhaps most important, Drummond plays with a competitiveness and joy that stems from someone who owns a healthy perspective about his occupation.

"I get the opportunity to showcase myself and play the game I love," Drummond said. "There's no question I'm going to play with joy. I never take these moments for granted and try to make the most of them."

Previously hesitant to utilize the double big-man approach, coach Billy Donovan suddenly is leaning into it. The first unveiling came on Tuesday at the United Center, a sensible matchup against a Minnesota Timberwolves front line that features 7-foot-1-inch Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, a stretch power forward who is listed at 7 feet.

Obviously, Patrick Williams' extended absence is creating opportunity. But Donovan's decision to return to the pairing to start the second half after opening Thursday's victory with Ayo Dosunmu is telling. The Grizzlies again featured two big men in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Santi Aldama, but Donovan said the decision resulted more from Memphis' physical defense on perimeter players.

"As we've gone through injuries with Patrick and Zach (LaVine) and some of the guys who have been out, it's kind of like, 'How do you take the roster and look at it and maybe do different things where teams have to prepare for a different kind of lineup?' Donovan said. "We've done some work the last four or five days on it spacing-wise.

"Those two guys are very good together. I think being big men, they know how to play off each other. It's the spacing around those guys that has to be better."

For two seasons, Drummond has consistently stated his belief that he can play alongside Vučević. The obvious concern is athletic power forwards who can not only shoot from the perimeter but attack closeouts with dribble penetration.

"We're trying something different and adjusting to what we want to do, not what the other team is doing," Drummond said. "We're a force together in the paint. We make teams have to deal with us at both ends of the court. I really like that lineup and I'm looking forward to more of it."

Vučević posted 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in his 39 minutes. When he plays alongside Drummond, he plays even more as an offensive hub on the perimeter, something Donovan humorously noted.

"Vooch being a big guy, he's probably the guy who looks into the post more than anybody," Donovan said. "I've said this before: I feel like sometimes we miss Vooch, we miss Andre in the post. Vooch isn't missing anybody in the post. That thing is going down there when he can. He's setting a good example of, 'Hey, when I'm down there, dump it in there. See what I'm doing?'"

Drummond helped flip a low-energy start by the Bulls in the second half.

"I go out there and try to do what I do best, which is create as much havoc as I can in the paint," Drummond said. "Finish strong in the paint and try to give us a spark."

Management chose at the trade deadline to hang on to Drummond despite considerable interest in the big man. Some of his market dried up as Thursday advanced. The Philadelphia 76ers spent three second-round picks to acquire shooter Buddy Hield from Indiana. And the Dallas Mavericks traded for former Bull Daniel Gafford from Washington.

Drummond's market mostly centered on second-round draft capital, a source had previously said. Instead, management is prioritizing a playoff push, which is fine by Drummond.

"They have belief in this group," Drummond said. "I have belief in this group."

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