'Grateful' for every opportunity he gets, Andre Drummond has been a big difference-maker for Bulls lately


CHICAGO (670 The Score) – Completely out of the Bulls’ rotation as recently as Jan. 28, reserve center Andre Drummond has suddenly emerged as a key catalyst for his team lately.

Drummond scored 21 points on 9-of-9 shooting and added 15 rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench as the Bulls pulled away for a 128-104 win against the Spurs on Monday evening at the United Center. Drummond was front and center in the Bulls’ dominant fourth quarter, as he scored 12 points, added five rebounds and also created defensive havoc in a frame that Chicago began on an 18-3 run after leading by just five.

“Our second unit was great,” Drummond said. “We came out there, brought a lot of energy. We were just prepared.”

That’s an apt way to describe how Drummond has approached his job – he has stayed ready despite an inconsistent role in recent weeks. Drummond played more than eight minutes in a game just twice in the Bulls’ 14 games in January, a month in which he also had six “DNP – coach’s decision” designations, with coach Billy Donovan explaining he felt there were matchups that necessitated his team going with the smaller, quicker Derrick Jones Jr. at center for long stretches.

Then last Thursday, Drummond sparked the Bulls with 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in a win against the Hornets. He followed that with a productive stint in another victory against the Blazers on Saturday before his big performance Monday made him the first Bulls player since Taj Gibson in the 2013-’14 season to record at least 20 points and 15 rebounds off the bench, according to team research.

Through the ups and the downs, Drummond has focused on controlling what he can control.

“I’m grateful and thankful to play this game of basketball,” Drummond said. “You never know when it can be taken from you. I never take this game lightly. I appreciate every moment that I am on that floor. I don’t take those moments lightly. When I get that chance, I just try to play as hard as I can and give it all I have.”

Drummond has had to make the most of limited minutes because Nikola Vucevic has been entrenched as the Bulls’ starting center and having a strong, efficient season himself. For his part, Vucevic has been impressed by Drummond’s attitude and professionalism.

“It says a lot about him,” said Vucevic, who added 22 points and 12 rebounds Monday. “It just shows how true of a professional he is. When you’re not playing, when you’re out of the rotation, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused, stay locked in. He’s been doing that for this whole season, working also in our practice, before, after, just to work and stay in shape and everything. And tonight, that’s just evident the last couple games but especially tonight – he came in and played a huge role for us, was part of that unit that built that big lead. I’m very happy for him.”

Drummond’s recent surge has come as the trade deadline looms Thursday afternoon, a fact that isn’t lost on him. At shootaround Monday morning, he was asked if he still expected to be with Chicago when the trade deadline passed. He’s leaving that answer up to fate.

“I don’t think expectations for anything is logical,” Drummond said, according to the Athletic. “You can’t expect anything. This is the NBA. Anything is liable to happen.

“But what I can expect is hard work and playing hard while I am here. If it’s here, if it’s anywhere else, I can’t control that.”

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.

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