By Ben Golliver
The Pistons announced Friday that Drummond, the No. 9 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a stress fracture of the fifth lumbar vertebra in his back, an injury which will not require surgery. He will wear a brace during his rehabilitation.
The Detroit News reported that a fall during a loss to the Lakers on Sunday initially caused the injury. Drummond departed early from a loss to the Nets on Wednesday following a play in which he blocked a driving shot by C.J. Watson and then fouled Reggie Evans on a put-back opportunity. Drummond left the game after that second quarter sequence with zero points, two blocks and one assist in just five minutes. He did not return. The play can be seen at the 25-second mark in the video above.
Drummond, 19, has been one of the league's best rookies this season, averaging 7.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in just 19.7 minutes per game. He leads all rookies with a PER of 22.6 and he was among the candidates for the 2013 Rookie of the Year award, trailing favorites Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis.
The four-to-six week timeline puts Drummond's expected return in mid-to-late March. The Pistons are currently eight games out of the eighth seed in the East so the playoff implications of this injury are minimal. Developing Drummond down the stretch was a top goal for the Pistons so this is a tough blow, although the fact that this isn't a season-ending injury lessens the pain somewhat. Truth be told, he hasn't played nearly enough minutes this season on a rebuilding team, so any playing time he gets down the stretch will be meaningful from a big-picture perspective.
In the meantime, Drummond will be a no-go for the Rising Stars Challenge, formerly known as the Rookie/Sophomore Game, at All-Star Weekend. He was set to play for "Team Shaq" after rosters were announced on Thursday. Video via YouTube user bballfansite