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Andre Drummond, who's missed 16 games with a stress fracture in his back, admits it's been "mentally draining" watching from the sidelines. But despite feeling "no pain at all," he won't rush his return.
Earlier this week, the Detroit Pistons announced that the medical staff was pleased with Andre Drummond's recovery from a stress fracture in his back and that he would soon resume basketball activities:
"Team doctors, in consultation with Dr. Robert Watkins and Dr. Robert Watkins Jr. of Los Angeles, are pleased with the progress of Andre Drummond's recovery from a back injury. Under their guidance, Drummond will enter a second phase of rehabilitation and conditioning that will include a progression of basketball related activities. No timetable has been placed on Drummond's return to game action at this time. He will continue to be evaluated throughout the rehabilitation and conditioning process and further updates will be passed along at an appropriate time."
But what does this actually mean? What does the "second phase of rehabilitation and conditioning" entail? Even Drummond doesn't know. From MLive's David Mayo:
"Your guess is as good as mine," as to what that second phase will entail, Drummond said after Monday's loss to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. "I don't know what Arnie has in store for me so I just listen to him. He knows the best for me, he's been through this situation before, so whatever he tells me to do I'll do."
When the seriousness of Drummond's injury was finally discovered -- remember, he tried and failed to play through the injury for a couple of games before the team realized he had a stress fracture in addition to just a bruised tailbone -- the Pistons estimated that he'd be sidelined four to six weeks. That was five weeks ago.
The team's most recent statement, while sounding positive on the surface, reveals the old timeline has been thrown out the window. So when might Drummond actually return? From Vince Ellis of the Free Press:
"I'm just going to take it step by step and day by day," Drummond said. "We're not going to rush because we don't want it to come back again. But as of now I'm feeling great -- no pain at all. I'm just feeling great."
At this point I'm starting to wonder if there's a chance Drummond sits for the rest of the year. By all accounts, his injury doesn't sound like the type that might become chronic, but it's easy to justify being extra cautious with a young cornerstone player. If that's the decision, though, I suspect it won't go over well with Drummond, who admitted that it's been difficult to watch from the sidelines while his teammates struggle. From Vinnie Goodwill of the Detroit News:
"As a rookie, being my first year, it's tough," Drummond said. "Mentally draining and physically, it's tough watching. You want to help your teammates, but you can't at the moment. I just use this time to get better mentally."
He said he's watching the team with a new eye, learning more by sitting than when he is on the floor.
"I know when I come back I'll be mentally tough and ready to play," Drummond said. As for when he returns this season, a date he isn't sure of, he isn't worried about conditioning at all.
"I'm 19 years old, man. Young legs and young lungs," Drummond said. "Give me a few days and I'll be right back."
What do you guys think? Should Drummond return just in time to shake off rust and regain his confidence before the end of the season, or should the Pistons hold him out and embrace Operation Tank?
Now your thoughts.