Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers counter Brooklyn Nets' moves by adding big man Andre Drummond

March 29

The Lakers see your move, Nets, and they have an answer of their own.

On Saturday, news broke that the Brooklyn Nets were going to add another former All-Star to their deep and talented roster: free agent big man LaMarcus Aldridge.

That gives the Nets five players with multiple All-Star appearances, with Aldridge joining Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

The counterpunch came Sunday when news broke that the Los Angeles Lakers were adding two-time All-Star Andre Drummond.

Drafted No. 9 overall by the Detroit Pistons out of UConn in 2012, Drummond has built a career as a dominant rebounder who can score inside, averaging 14.6 PPG and 13.8 RPG while shooting 54% from the field all time.

He has won four rebounding titles in his career, including the previous three, and Drummond was averaging 17.5 PPG and 13.5 RPG for the Cleveland Cavaliers when he agreed to have his contract bought out on Friday.

Listed at 6-foot-10, 279 pounds, Drummond is a throwback of sorts as a classic, back-to-the-basket center, adept at using his body to clean up misses inside and turn them into points.

He will look to fill the gap inside left by Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, two inside forces who helped the Lakers win the title last season but have since found new homes.

On Monday's edition of "First Things First," Nick Wright took a swing at answering which team got better over the weekend — L.A. or Brooklyn — and lauded the Lakers' move simply because it kept the Nets at bay.

"I heard from two separate front-office guys this weekend asking me if the Lakers were getting Drummond or if Drummond was going to the Nets. And they were asking not because they were worried about the Lakers – these were Eastern Conference folks. It was because they desperately didn't want Drummond to go to Brooklyn."

While the Nets aren't a bad rebounding team – their total of 44.1 boards per game ranks 13th in the league – they are behind most of their championship competition when it comes to hitting the glass, including the Milwaukee Bucks (first), the Utah Jazz (second), the Philadelphia 76ers (fifth), the Lakers (ninth) and the LA Clippers (11th).

However, Skip Bayless said on Monday's "Undisputed" that despite Drummond's rebounding prowess, he wouldn't have made a larger imprint than Aldridge for the Nets and won't have a huge impact for the Lakers due to his lack of experience on the biggest stage. 

"Andre Drummond is not that dude. He's not that guy. He's never been in the spotlight before. ... I feel so sorry for this guy because there's no way he's going to live up to being the Lakers' savior. ... He's only played in eight playoff games."

Drummond twice made the playoffs as a member of the Pistons – in 2015-16 and in 2018-19 – and both times, Detroit was swept in the first round.

He has playoff career averages of 15.5 points and 11.0 rebounds while shooting 48.1% from the field and 36.4% from the free-throw line.

Regardless, Shannon Sharpe praised the acquisition for L.A., saying that the nucleus of Drummond, LeBron James and Anthony Davis can overwhelm any front line in the NBA.

"The NBA is in an abundance of trouble if [LeBron] James and [Anthony Davis] come back healthy. That big front line is formidable. Because we got a guy that can score better than Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee at this age. We got a guy that can rebound better than Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee at this age. ... It's over."

The biggest thing for the Lakers at this point, as Sharpe pointed out, is getting healthy. Since James injured his ankle against Atlanta on March 20, playing just 11 minutes in that game, the Lakers are 2-4 with James and Davis on the sideline (including the Atlanta loss).

The Lakers have an average point differential of -14 in the three defeats.

If L.A. can get everybody healthy, the Lakers could have a pretty intimidating lineup, but will it be a better lineup than what the Nets are putting together?

Fans might get a taste April 10, when the two teams meet in Brooklyn. But given that it's unlikely both squads will be fully healthy by then, the next opportunity will be in the NBA Finals.

What a juicy series that would be.

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