Detroit Pistons Must Protect Center Andre Drummond After Back Injury

Brett Kaplan@brettkaplanCorrespondent IIIFebruary 8, 2013

The Pistons must protect Drummond.
The Pistons must protect Drummond.Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons announced Friday that rookie center Andre Drummond is out for four to six weeks with a fracture in his vertebra, according to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News.

Pistons team physician Ben Paolucci addressed the media regarding Drummond's injury (via the Detroit News):

"We found the injury yesterday. No surgery," Paolucci said. "He's got a stress fracture. He should get better, no residual. Nothing lasting."

It's encouraging that Drummond won't have any long-term effects from the injury. However, it's worrisome that this injury occurred against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 3—Paolucci explained to the Detroit News, "The injury on the left side occurred in the L.A. game. It's a common injury"—yet was just announced on Feb. 8. 

Drummond is 19 years old and is averaging 7.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in 19.7 minutes.

Drummond, who has the potential to be a superstar in the NBA, never should have played in the two games following the Lakers game. He played a combined total of 13 minutes against the New York Knicks on Feb. 4 and the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 6, but never should have even played one minute.

While the team is enamored with Drummond's talent, they must practice restraint with him when it comes to his health. Drummond is still young and while he's talented enough to help the Pistons this year, the Pistons must take a longer-term approach with him because he's a player the team can build around.

The Pistons probably checked Drummond's health after the Lakers game—but once he struggled in the Knicks game, there is no way the Pistons should have risked his health against the Nets.

Drummond even downplayed his injury, according to Goodwill:

After taking a charge on Andray Blatche Tuesday, Drummond exited, playing only four minutes and looked to be in obvious pain on the bench, but claimed it wasn't anything too serious.

"I fell the wrong way in the Lakers game (Sunday), I just need a day or two and I'll be good," said Drummond on Wednesday. "I felt good, (but) after I took that charge it hit me again."

This is one of the reasons why Drummond is becoming a fan favorite in Detroit and a star in the NBA. He just wants to play and at 19 years old, he isn't thinking of long-term consequences to his health.

Hopefully he'll be able to sit and heal the full six weeks and not try and rush back early.

The Pistons and Drummond got very lucky this time, but next time it could be a lot worse and he could be out for a lot longer. Hopefully this taught both the Pistons and Drummond a lesson, which will get them to take a more conservative approach next time.