Did the Bulls make the most underrated signing of the summer?

Andre Drummond, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Andre Drummond, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

While bringing back Zach LaVine on the biggest deal in franchise history was certainly the highlight of the summer, the Chicago Bulls weren’t done making moves there. Bringing Andre Drummond on board was a surprise that nobody expected, but a welcome one at that.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news of the Bulls inking Drummond to an extremely team-friendly deal. The deal will dish out $3.2 million to Drummond this upcoming season with a player option for $3.4 million in 2023-24. It’s honestly difficult to envision any scenario where Drummond somehow underperforms on such an affordable contract.

It’s actually quite ironic he signed for so little in the first place. Drummond raised headlines back in March when he bluntly told reporters, “If we’re all being honest, I’m only here [in Brooklyn] until the rest of the season. Who knows what’s gonna happen in the offseason?”

The assumption here was that Brooklyn was simply not capable of retaining Drummond due to financial reasons. With only the taxpayer MLE at their disposal, the Nets could only afford so much and had to let quality players like Drummond and Bruce Brown leave in free agency.

Whether or not Drummond was worth more than the approximate $6 million per year allotted on the taxpayer MLE was cause for discussion throughout the season, but most people recognized he deserved a much bigger payday than the minimum contract he had originally signed.

Although the Chicago Bulls had a relatively quiet offseason, they may have snuck away with an underrated free agent signing in Andre Drummond.

For that reason, it’s still a big surprise to see the Chicago Bulls pick up Drummond for such a meager asking price. Several teams including Charlotte, Toronto, and Dallas were in desperate need of a solid rotation center this summer, so it seemed like there was going to be a fair market for his services.

Earning just a bit more than the veteran’s minimum, Drummond arrives to help revitalize the NBA’s third-worst rebounding team. As a four-time rebounding champion in 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020, Drummond has learned to adapt to a bench role and still maintain a high level of production. Although he had a reduced role, Drummond still led the NBA in rebounding percentage and total rebounds per 100 possessions in 2022.

Only six players averaged 20 or more rebounds per 100 possessions during the 2021-22 season, including Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela, Hassan Whiteside, and JaVale McGee. Of those six, Jokic and Gobert are currently on supermax contracts, Capela is making in excess of $20 million per season, and McGee just signed a three-year, $20 million deal despite already being halfway to turning 35 years old.

Drummond’s skill set is clearly highly valued in today’s NBA, and he’s still somehow only 28 years old. The outlier here is obviously Whiteside, but even he just had a surprisingly solid season as a backup for the Utah Jazz. Drummond is certainly a better player than Whiteside at this moment in time, meaning Chicago will likely be very pleased in their investment as long as he’s primarily playing a bench role.

Drummond’s presence finally grants the Bulls a player who can cause genuine mismatches on the low block and hopefully open up the offensive scheme with a dependable scorer in the post as well as all the second-chance shot opportunities he generates on the offensive glass. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan might pride themselves on their hyper-efficient shooting, but having Drummond around to clean up their rare misses will be an exciting luxury.

Chicago is now in a position where they have the flexibility to run out whatever type of lineups they wish. Drummond ensures the Bulls will always have at least one competent big man available. They also have the personnel to run three-guard lineups, or even play small ball.

This versatility is going to be critically important next season, and it’s only possible because Drummond took less than his perceived market value to play here. For that reason, I’m very excited to see the impact Andre Drummond can have on the Chicago Bulls next season.

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