It’s snowing right here in Chicago, snowing in an enormous higher Midwest to Northeast hall, by means of Detroit and Cleveland, by means of Buffalo and Syracuse, all the way in which out to the fishing villages and touristy hamlets in Maine. In case you reside in a city of any scale, the snow features as a extremely momentary coat of paint. It covers up the crud that collects within the gutters, cigarette butts and quick meals wrappers, canine poop within the grass by the sidewalk. It emphasizes the outlines of buildings and tree branches and all the things turns into, for a number of hours, a more moderen and extra fundamental model of itself. 

The white displays the dim gentle from the clouded-over sky; the day is without delay darkish and vivid. After which the site visitors churns the street-snow to muddy brown. The canines make the snowbanks yellow. You hope for one more dusting, to wash up the imperfections, and maintain the phantasm of newness for at the very least a short while longer.

Andre Drummond’s profession has been a collection of contemporary begins, though he hadn’t switched NBA groups till final Thursday. His single yr at UConn set the template: He arrived as ESPN’s No. 2-rated freshman recruit and departed as a curious disappointment. Diagnoses diverse. He was, relying on who you requested, faint of coronary heart or simply barely immature. His effort was inconsistent. He additionally suffered from the basic faculty large man downside, the place some important quantity of his potential went untapped as a result of guards who couldn’t get him the ball the place he needed it. 

This was disastrous for UConn — Drummond posted two factors and three rebounds of their season-ending NCAA Event loss to Iowa State — however didn’t affect his draft inventory all that a lot. An incredible season with the Huskies may need made him the second or third total decide within the 2012 draft. On the mix, he was telling coaches and executives that he noticed himself as a much bigger, stronger model of Kevin Durant. 

No matter: An athlete as gifted as Drummond can solely drop to date. He went ninth, to the Pistons.

Over his first two skilled seasons, Drummond lacked the construction he clearly wanted. He was dropped onto a mediocre mess of a Detroit squad, coached by Lawrence Frank, who was fired on the finish of the season, and captained by Greg Monroe, the kind of conventional, paint-clogging large Drummond ought to by no means share a frontcourt with. His second professional season was promising on a person degree — 13.three rebounds per night time and 13.5 factors on nothing however dunks — however your 2013-14 Detroit Pistons had Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Monroe and head coach Mo Cheeks, who lasted a bit of over half the yr.

If anyone was going to determine find out how to use Andre Drummond, it was most likely going to be Stan Van Gundy, put in within the spring of 2014 because the Pistons’ omnipotent head coach and staff president. SVG received the very best out of Dwight Howard in Orlando by placing him in a ton of excessive pick-and-rolls and giving him simply sufficient post-up alternatives that the large man sometimes grumbled within the press however didn’t overtly disobey his coach’s directions. 

Van Gundy didn’t do Drummond any favors when it comes to the gamers he put round him — it’s principally unattainable to nail draft picks and free- agent signings whereas staying up till three a.m. each night time sweating  find out how to decelerate Paul George — however he did uncover and sharpen features of Drummond’s sport that not many different coaches would have. As an example, Drummond’s a greater passer than anybody had realized till Van Gundy received to him. A few of the extra attention-grabbing and efficient units Detroit ran beneath SVG positioned Drummond on the elbow and let him function in house, the place he might carry out a demi-drive to the rim or hit cutters sprinting in from the wing. 

This type of stuff prompt a sure complexity to Drummond’s expertise. He might contribute extra to an offense than, say, DeAndre Jordan. Determining precisely what that meant — what he could possibly be relied upon to do, and the way usually — was a tough course of. Stan Van received about two-thirds of the way in which there earlier than he was proven the door in 2018.

Right here’s one thing a comparatively fast gloss on Drummond’s 4 seasons beneath SVG skips over: His enchancment was fitfully uneven, and Drummond has remained an uneven performer for a season-and-a-half beneath Dwane Casey, who’s additionally a wise coach. It’s very troublesome to say something definitive about Andre Drummond as a result of his play and the final league-wide fan consensus about him is at all times in flux. He’s at all times renewing himself, at all times turning a nook, after which returning to what he at all times was, at all times including a wrinkle to his sport that glimmers and disappears, at all times recommitting to the defensive finish, at all times on the verge of breaking out, at all times debated like Are we positive about him? Are we positive he strikes the needle? Are we positive he isn’t fairly good, regardless of his faults?  

He has made a pair of All-Star groups and is a significantly higher participant now than he was six years in the past. He additionally simply received dumped by the Pistons for principally nothing, as a result of they weren’t positive if he was going to select up his $28.7 million participant choice subsequent yr, they usually didn’t need to pay it. Now he’s in basketball nowhere, northeast Ohio, on a Cavs squad that added him just because the worth was so low. He’s 26, a wonderfully indeterminate age: Hardly previous, hardly younger.

If there’s going to be one more Right here Comes Andre Drummond second, it’s probably not going to occur in Cleveland, the place the roster is senseless and the locker room is a large number. However the Cavs may solely be a stopover for Drummond. He can enter free company this summer time and play for whoever can have him. He’d lose cash within the deal however acquire a possibility for self-discovery, particularly if he joined an honest staff with a gap on the 5. 

Whether or not he decides to do this or not is dependent upon how sick he’s of the impermanence that has outlined his profession, a continuing cycle of optimism and discouragement. There’s one thing about Andre Drummond. We wouldn’t have bothered maintaining together with his progress for this lengthy if there wasn’t. However what are its exact dimensions? They keep hidden stubbornly beneath an edifice that’s altering on a regular basis. With Detroit lastly giving up on him, perhaps that barrier will quickly thaw.