Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: A+
Sadly, Andre Drummond has yet to return from a stress fracture in his fifth lumbar vertebra. For those out there who would like a simpler explanation, Drummond is suffering from a fractured back.
Even with 17 games on the shelf, however, Drummond's grade remains astonishingly high.
Despite averaging just 19.7 minutes per contest, Drummond has tallied eight double-doubles. That comes with averages of 7.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 0.9 steals.
At the time of his injury, Drummond also led all rookies in Player Efficiency Rating, Estimated Wins Added and Value Added. Shooting 59.2 percent from the field doesn't hurt, either.
Whenever he comes back, we expect more of the brilliant same.
Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets: D+
Austin Rivers recently underwent surgery to repair his fractured right hand. That might be the best thing that ever happened to the rookie out of Duke.
Prior to the injury, Rivers was playing terrible basketball.
Through 61 contests, Rivers was averaging 23.2 minutes per game. In that time, he posted a slash line of .372/.326/.546 and a PER of 5.97.
So why was he playing so poorly?
To put it simply, the New Orleans Hornets are quickly learning that Rivers cannot run the point.
Rivers plays isolation basketball. He dominates the ball, thrives off of his ability to create with his dribble and capitalizes on the referee leniency that enables penetrating scorers to gain positioning on their defender.
Unfortunately, Rivers isn't playing against college or high-school kids—he's playing against grown men in the NBA. His inability to match up physically—or positionally, for that matter—had him struggling.
Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics: A-
Much like Drummond, Boston Celtics big man Jared Sullinger has seen his season cut short by a back injury. He recently underwent surgery on two herniated disks in his ailing back.
To continue with this trend, Sullinger was performing at an extraordinary level before he went down.
Despite averaging just 19.8 minutes per game, Sullinger is the Celtics' leading offensive rebounder. For those concerned about his size, Sullinger is also fourth amongst rookies in rebounds per 48 minutes.
With four double-doubles and five starts under his belt, it's safe to say that Sullinger was on pace for an All-Rookie selection before he went down.