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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Former rivals Andre Drummond and Joel Embiid are going to be teammates now


Andre Drummond gets to the basket ahead of Joel Embiid when the Pistons and 76ers faced off in December of 2019.

Andre Drummond gets to the basket ahead of Joel Embiid when the Pistons and 76ers faced off in December of 2019.
Image: Getty Images

Life: That shit happens fast.

Less than three years ago, when Andre Drummond was still just months away from his last All-Star bid, the then franchise center got entangled with Joel Embiid in an early-season Philadelphia 76ers vs. Detroit Pistons match-up. Embiid busted Drummond’s ass for 39 points and 17 rebounds in a 109-99 win over the Pistons. Drummond was limited to eight points and nine rebounds while in foul trouble.

Embiid then tweeted this, which is still up.

The trash-talking between the two had already been a thing the year before. And it was ongoing as the two shared placements among the NBA’s best centers before Drummond dropped off.

Today, it was reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Drummond is signing with the Philadelphia 76ers on a one-year deal for an undisclosed amount. The same Sixers who haven’t yet traded Ben Simmons, and seemingly are waiting for teams to fill out their rosters. Let’s remember that other pre-season blockbusters have happened late in the off-season, like Russell Westbrook for John Wall just one day after teams reported to training camp last year, Chris Paul to Phoenix just two weeks before that, Paul to OKC from Houston for Westbrook over a week after free agency began in 2019, Kyrie Irving being dealt to Boston in late August 2017, and so on. But as they fill out their roster, they now have what we’ll call “Embiid insurance” for the inevitable 15-20 games he’ll miss this season. Dwight Howard did it last year, and now he’s back with the Lakers, which is where Drummond is coming from, so consider it a swap.

Drummond averaged 14.9 points, 14.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals per game between 2013 and 2019, making two All-Star teams and even one All-NBA. In 2019-20, even while traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Drummond won a fourth rebounding title and averaged 17.7 points and 15.2 rebounds per game. But at that point, we’d already collectively decided that Drummond’s gaudy stats had been empty numbers resulting in minimal winning.

Even when he was traded, that served as an indication. The near 7-footer was moved prior to the 2020 deadline by the Pistons in exchange for just John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a 2023 second-round draft pick. The following year, he was simply waived by Cleveland, who couldn’t find a deal for him prior to this past deadline, then to be picked up by the Lakers. Drummond’s career per 36 points and rebound averages with the Pistons were 16.7 and 16.1, 21.9 and 16.2 with Cleveland, and 17.3 and 14.8 with the Lakers. Clearly, it didn’t amount to much, because now he’s going to back up a rival he had been going toe-to-toe with (physically speaking) just a couple of years ago. Drummond doesn’t even turn 28 until next week.

Respect to Drummond. A lot of people ain’t built to swallow their pride this hard. But, man, it just goes to show, some numbers really don’t mean shit. He’s too talented not to become a key contributor for a contender, at least, so we’ll see if he figures it out now in Philadelphia.

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