Drummond returns, will start for Pistons
by Vince Ellis, USA TODAY Sports
A lower back stress fracture delayed the inevitable by seven weeks, but the day Detroit Pistons fans have been waiting for finally is here.
Andre Drummond, the precocious rookie center, will hear his name called as part of the starting lineup Friday night, when the Toronto Raptors visit the Palace.
That give the Pistons 10 games to observe how Drummond will coexist with Greg Monroe, who will move to his natural power forward spot.
“As you can see, Greg and I have not played that much together,” Drummond said this morning. “We do well at reading each other, so I’m sure we’ll figure it out over a couple of weeks in games.”
Coach Lawrence Frank revealed after this morning’s shootaround that he had told Drummond earlier this season that he would get his first start Feb. 8, in a home game against the San Antonio Spurs.
But after he suffered his injury in a Super Bowl Sunday loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and aggravated it in a home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 6, an MRI exam revealed the extent.
The Pistons announced he would be unavailable for 4-to-6 weeks. Frank admitted Drummond that could have played last week, at the six-week mark.
But the organization wanted to make sure Drummond, 19, was conditioned properly before returning to the floor. So after roughly two weeks of practice, the Pistons have deemed Drummond ready.
There won’t be any restriction on minutes. Drummond will start the first and second halves. Frank said playing time will be awarded based on matchups and performance.
The Pistons have lost 15 of 18 games since the All-Star break and are getting blown off the floor nightly. They were a top-10 defensive squad when Drummond was playing earlier this season but have fallen to 17th. They also were a top-10 rebounding team but have fallen to 14th.
Frank did warn about looking at Drummond as a panacea.
“The last thing we want to do is say, ‘Andre’s back and our problems are solved,’” Frank said. “That is furthest (thing from) the truth there is.
“If we’re expecting Andre to come back and our fortunes are going … [For more on Andre Drummond returns, finally will start for Pistons, click here.]