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With LeBron James and Anthony Davis both sidelined with injuries, the Los Angeles Lakers desperately needed some reinforcements. That help has since arrived in the form of Andre Drummond, who should provide some much-needed interior presence. There was a time, however, when no one wanted to see the big man hit the court.

Long before he became an NBA star, Andre Drummond struggled to make an impact on his youth basketball team. In fact, the young big man was so bad that parents would yell at the coach to keep him stapled to the bench.

New Lakers center Andre Drummond has proven to be a capable NBA big man

These days, traditional, back-to-the-basket big men have gone the way of the dinosaur. Andre Drummond, however, is still more than capable of making an impact in the NBA.

Drummond played his college ball at UConn and made quite the splash as a freshman. He started 30 games for the Huskies, averaging 10 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per outing, earning a place on the Big East All-Freshman Team; the big man then entered into the 2012 NBA draft.

The center joined the Detroit Pistons as the ninth-overall pick. While he’s struggled from the free-throw line, Drummond developed into a capable NBA player; from his sophomore season on, he averaged a double-double without breaking a sweat.

While traditional big men have fallen out of style in today’s NBA, there will always be room for a player of Drummond’s ability. Through the end of his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the center has averaged 14.6 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game over the course of his professional career. That will earn you a spot on a roster any day of the week.

Andre Drummond was a pretty bad youth basketball player, though

In 2021, it’s almost impossible to imagine Andre Drummond as anything other than a talented basketball player. During his earliest days on the court, though, things were quite a bit different.

“Sports was a slow progression,” Anthony Oliveri wrote in a 2016 ESPN story. “On an elementary school peewee basketball squad, Drummond struggled with his coordination and didn’t see much playing time.”

His struggles weren’t lost on those around him. In fact, other parents weren’t too pleased when Drummond would enter the game.

“His love was basketball. But he just wasn’t very good at it yet,” Christine Cameron, Drummond’s mother, recalled. “You’d brush against him, and he’d fall over on the floor. I used to joke that the ball would be going to one end, and he’d be going to the other end. When he would go on the court, you have parents shouting from the stands, ‘Don’t put him in! Don’t put him in the game!”

These days, though, the big man is in demand…just ask the LA Lakers

In February 2020, Andre Drummond was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for pennies on the dollar. A little more than a year later, though, the big man found himself in high demand.

After the Cavs waived him, Drummond hit free agency; in the blink of an eye, NBA teams from around the country were clambering for his services. The center eventually settled on the LA Lakers, presumably due to their need for an interior presence and legitimate chance at lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

While the big man is yet to suit up for his new squad, head coach Frank Vogel is already offering him some pretty lofty praise.

We’re all thrilled to add Andre Drummond, a player of his caliber, to our team,” Vogel explained, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “He’s one of the best centers in the league … I think he’s going to give us a big lift in the immediate future, and then obviously when we get going. He can dominate the game on both sides of the ball. His physicality is something you have to account for.”

That’s certainly quite a bit different than Andre Drummond’s youth. When LeBron James and Anthony Davis want you to team up with them, you know that you’re doing something right.

Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference and Basketball-Reference