Pistons center Andre Drummond's recovery from broken vertebra has progressed to the point where he is able to do more basketball-related activities. (Clarence Tabb, Jr./Detroit News)
Salt Lake City — Andre Drummond has been upbeat about the entire rehabilitation process, so he isn't the least bit surprised about news about his progress moving onto the next phase.
"I'm feeling great," said Drummond in the locker room after the Pistons' 103-90 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
One can take that term in a relative sense, considering the type of back injury he sustained, a stress fracture of the fifth lumbar vertebra, in early February. A statement released by the team hours before Monday's game said Drummond will start doing more basketball-related activities, which is music to his ears.
"It's definitely great that it's OK to start moving around and doing more basketball-related things," Drummond said. "We're gonna take it step by step and day by day. We're not gonna rush."
After all, why rush? The Pistons are in the midst of sinking to the bottom of the East after being on the cusp of playoff contention, having lost six straight and nine of 10 entering tonight's game against Golden State, another team fighting for their playoff lives.
The Pistons usually take the cautious route in dealing with injuries anyway, but in Drummond's case, it's impossible not to think they're looking at the long view of things with the debilitating injuries that have affected franchise bigs in the last several years.
With that said, Drummond is at the altar of one Arnie Kander, who's vigorously monitoring his recovery with a watchful eye; hence the vague "basketball-related activities" portion of the statement.
Drummond doesn't even know what that entails.
"Your guess is as good as mine," said Drummond, laughing. "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."
He's missed 16 games already, and is at week five of the recovery phase, as the original prognosis from Dr. Ben Paolucci was four to six weeks. He had just come off his best month in January, averaging 8.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots.
"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."
Knight feeling positive
There was no update on Pistons guard Brandon Knight, who reinjured his left ankle in the first quarter of Monday's game. He was on crutches afterward and acting coach Brian Hill said the sprain was severe.
The second-year guard hasn't had the best few days, but was taking everything in stride.
"Everything happens for a reason," Knight said. "You can take the good with the bad. From what I saw (the ankle) isn't broken. That's a positive to take from this."