Demarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond Are Taking Back The Center Position

A standard commercial door frame in the United States is between 80 and 84 inches high.

At 6-11, Andre Drummond and Demarcus Cousins have probably bumped the roof of their heads on a few door frames, but they haven’t scraped their ceiling yet as athletes on the hardwood.

More importantly, they play a position that has become more difficult to scout than ever. 

The doubling of the key's width, the inception of the three-point line and the increased emphasis on up-tempo play and shooting behind the arc has resulted in a generation of big men who avoid the paint as if it were the Bermuda Triangle. 

If there were two under-25 centers any general manager could jumpstart a franchise with, Drummond and Boogie Cousins are leading candidates 1 and 1a, in no particular order. In two years, both could be representing the red, white and blue at the Olymipcs in Brazil. As far as low-post prospects go they’re the only choices if you don’t include rookie Joel Embiid, who won’t play at all in 2014.

Both are so highly-touted that if the Election Day polls placed Drummond and Cousin’s futures on the ballot, a recount would be required.

At the age of 21, Drummond came in at No.30 on ESPN’s ranking of the top 100 players, just four spots behind Derrick Rose.

Boogie landed at 19th, one slot behind the No. 1 pick in his 2010 Draft and Kentucky teammate John Wall.

Five years ago, the top center debate vacillated between Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. Howard’s agility and defense put him over the top, but Andrew Bynum and his expanding offensive game were closing fast on the title of the NBA’s best center.

Barring injury, Drummond and Boogie should be the next pair of centers to lift their respective teams out of the doldrums and back to respectability if not league nobility.

For various reasons, both centers dropped in their respective drafts.

Boogie went fifth in 2010, behind Wall (okay reasonable), Evan Turner, Derrick Favors (ugh!) and Wesley Johnson (scratches out eyeballs)

Drummond went ninth, watching Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes and Terrence Ross shake Commissioner Stern's hand before him.

He was so raw two years ago Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant wrote, "Andre Drummond, 6 feet 10 and 18 years old, is ready for the NBA the same way Amanda Bynes was ready to drive a car the other night in West Hollywood."

The next few years will be crucial in determining how much Detroit should invest in him.

Boogie is the deft offensive maestro. Not many players can successfully execute the level of high volume efficiency Boogie has exhibited in the post. Drummond is the hammer on the basket head.

His obstruction to rising into the league’s upper echelon of superstars is more conspicuous than Boogie’s.

Escalation has always been an issue with Boogie. The Kings 7-footer has never met a manageable situation he can’t blow up over. During his abridged sophomore season, he got his first coach Paul Westphal fired seven games into the 2012 season.

Their beef could be traced back to his rookie season when Cousin’s lingering anger over a missed game-winning shot by Tyreke Evans resulted in a dust-up with teammate Donte Greene, followed by Westphal barred the center from joining them on a flight to Phoenix.

Boogie is relatively docile 80 percent of the time he’s on the floor, but the 20 percent is where his moodiness have been irradiated for the basketball world to see.

Two years ago, a gentlemanly confrontation with Spurs color commentator Sean Elliott resulted in a two-game suspension. In February Cousins punched Patrick Beverley in the stomach as he moved off ball. A year earlier, he socked OJ Mayo in the groin and a month later, he was ejected for elbowing Vince Carter in the face.

It's a level of immaturity that resulted in his dismissal from the team at Erwin High School as a sophomore.

Cousins and Drummond were first and third in personal fouls committed last season, but it's Cousins who led the league in technicals, immolates in front of fans whenever he loses control of his temper and takes the Kings fortunes with him.  

If he could harness that aggression into elevating his teammates and propelling the Kings towards their first few playoff baby steps.

Drummond is a mirror of Boogie's personality.

The rub on Drummond the prospect revolved around whether he’s too nice.

Drummond is affable without being goofy. That’s an important footnote to mention because Stan Van Gundy’s previous All-Star project became consumed by a silliness that has become his defining characteristic.

Drummond’s most embarrassing incident was a humiliating online dating dalliance with a pitiless Nickelodeon actress.

Calling him a great teammate would be an understatement. From the moment he decided to re-classify and step onto UConn’s campus, Drummond’s proven to be a magnanimous individual.

The No. 1 prep prospect in the Class of 2012 joined the Huskies as a walk-on. It wasn’t by design either.

Drummond joined a much different squad than the Kentucky Lottery Picks Boogie linked up with in Lexington.

Four months earlier, Calhoun was basking in the grace of his third national championship. Now, the NCAA was hovering over his program as an inadequate APR score resulted in a reduction in two scholarships.

Because Drummond waited until the end of August to reclassify, the combination of his tardiness and the scholarship reductions forced Calhoun to do some tricky maneuvering.

The plan was for redshirt freshman Michael Bradley to apply for financial aid before the semester began.

Before the details had been worked out, Drummond preemptively announced his intentions to play for UConn on Twitter.

The optics were bad, even though  Bradley volunteered, but for an athlete of Drummond’s caliber Calhoun was willing to accept a sacrifice from a young man who spent part of his childhood in the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home.

It was Drummond who rebuffed Bradley’s gesture and offered to pursue his own financial-aid.

In his third year, Drummond is expected to become a bit more self-servingand expand his rudimentary postgame.

Out of his 459 field goals last season, 163 were dunks. According to a recent survey of general managers conducted by, Drummond is the league’s best offensive rebounder.

Rebounds generally can’t escape Drummond’s grasps. The nuances are what escape Drummond.

Drummond’s goal is to double up on his volume. He can start by improving upon his 41 percent free throw shooting on 358 attempts from last season. It’s slightly better than his 37 percent shooting in a smaller sample size during the lockout-shortened campaign in 2012.

His rookie season was actually a tachyon leap forward from the 29 percent he drained in his lone season as a Huskie.  

During his first two seasons in the league, Drummond has missed 191 more free throws than he's made.

Boogie has never had any qualms with the touch on his shot, his vision passing out of double teams or his accuracy.

Endurance and staying out of foul trouble were the issues when he was drafted.

“I got a lot of negativity coming through the draft process. I was like, 'Imma be the next Oliver Miller to I won't last two years in the league to…' I was all types of stuff." Boogie told Grantland's Bill Simmons in July.

The final five games of Boogie's 2013-14 regular season campaign were indicative of the frustrations he endures and the ceiling he flashes.

Averages of 29.8 points on 49 percent shooting, 12.6 boards, 1.8 blocks and 77 percent shooting at the free throw line yielded individual success that made fantasy owners happy, but the team went 1-4 and finished the season packed into the lottery.

Now embarking on his fifth season, Boogie is entering the Kevin Love zone as a stat-stuffer whose superstar credentials are being questioned as a byproduct of his team’s stagnancy in the standings from year-to-year. There’s no opt-out clause included, but they need to get moving.

In the perilous Western Conference, the Kings don’t appear to be on the brink of making a leap out West.

Their only major offseason tinker involved trading away point guard Isaiah Thomas, the team’s second-leading scorer for the Phoenix Suns’ 2013 second-round pick and replaced him with Chris Paul’s apprentice, Darren Collison.

Three games into the 2014-15 season, Boogie’s endurance and bouts with foul trouble remain an issue, but per minute he’s more explosive than ever.

In a small sample size, Sacramento’s 3-0 start provides hope that Boogie will stick around for the long haul.

Boogie is averaging more points per 48 minutes than all but six players in the league.

Meanwhile, the Pistons could use a more assertive Drummond to augment an offense that ranks 30th in scoring and is 0-3 this season. 

There are warts remaining for both centers to smooth over, but the wingspan and upside for both is substanital enough for two moribund franchises to believe they can shatter the playoff ceiling before one day peeking their heads over the bluff and reach the NBA's zenith.

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