For the Raptors, the interest in Drummond makes a ton of sense. Since his first professional season in 2012-13, the two-time All-Star leads all players in both rebounds per game (13.8) and total rebounds.
Toronto’s defensive rebound percentage (71.6) ranks third-worst in the NBA this season, so glass cleaning is an area of need for the Raptors. Drummond led the league in boards for the third season in a row and the fourth season of his career, so he would provide an obvious improvement.
Reporting with @WindhorstESPN: The Cleveland Cavaliers are no longer planning to play center Andre Drummond as they work to trade the two-time All-Star prior to the NBA’s March 25th deadline, sources told ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 15, 2021
Drummond would also offer a lot more defensive upside than Aron Baynes, who signed a two-year deal with the Raptors during the offseason.
Baynes, 34, had impressed over the last few years with the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics as a big man who could spread the floor. But his three-point shooting has taken a massive hit this season, dropping from 35.1 percent in 2010-20 to 22.2 percent thus far in 2020-21.
While he has still exclusively been used in the starting lineup during all games that he has been active, he has been even worse on defense.
That was never more obvious than when Toronto switched the 6-foot Fred VanVleet to guard 6-foot-11 Karl-Anthony Towns rather than letting Baynes take the assignment.
On the offensive side, however, there are far bigger and more concerning questions for Drummond. The big has taken 288 field goal attempts within five feet of the rim this season, which ranks second-most in the NBA behind only Zion Williamson.
Aron Baynes is shooting 56.7% in the restricted area this season. Andre Drummond is shooting 51.9%.
— 𝐀𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐧 𝐑𝐨𝐬𝐞 (@AaronBenRose) February 15, 2021
But among the 74 players who have taken at least 100 attempts in this zone, only three have a worse field goal percentage than Drummond has recorded (50.3 percent) thus far. His field goal percentage at the rim ranks in the 5th percentile among all big men, per Cleaning the Glass.
He has historically been one of the least efficient pick-and-roll finishers in the NBA, which would not make him an ideal partner for high volume screen and roll playmakers like Kyle Lowry and VanVleet.
Drummond is a non-factor as a shooter, which means he would not provide much value from a spacing perspective either.
$22.9M is the magic number to match salaries for Andre Drummond.
Norman Powell, Aron Baynes, one of Patrick McCaw or Stanley Johnson, and one minimum contract gets them there. This framework would put the Raptors over the luxury tax and leave them with 11 players. https://t.co/BnGmKOOYOC
— Yossi Gozlan (@YossiGozlan) February 15, 2021
Would the defensive upside be worth it for Toronto to pursue such a deal?
For salary matching purposes, per HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan, the Raptors would likely need to send out Baynes as well as Norman Powell and either Patrick McCaw or Stanley Johnson – plus another player on a minimum deal – to make the deal happen.
Plus, according to our own Michael Scotto, the Cavaliers would likely want some draft capital as well. Toronto has typically done a very good job identifying sleeper talent in the draft, so moving even a protected first-rounder or a second-rounder could be costly.
The Raptors may be wise, instead, to look inward and note that they have been quite a bit more effective pairing Siakam with Boucher than Baynes.
Toronto is outscoring opponents by 10.3 points per 100 possessions when playing Siakam with Boucher, per NBA.com, but has been outscored by 5.9 points per 100 when the 2020 NBA All-Star is joined by Baynes.
That is a fairly massive swing that will make the world of difference in the Eastern Conference postseason race. Even if the results aren’t immediately pretty, the long-term development of Siakam and Boucher seems like the best move for their frontcourt woes.
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