The opening few weeks of the season haven’t been a complete disaster for the Detroit Pistons, considering they’ve managed to hang around .500 through their first seven games, but things certainly haven’t gone quite as well as they would have hoped.
In particular, they’ve already been hit with a number of injury problems, with Reggie Jackson ruled out indefinitely due to a back problem, and Derrick Rose suffering a hamstring injury. And then, of course, they’ve been without their best player, Blake Griffin, for the entire season as he works his way back from knee and hamstring issues.
Early on Monday afternoon, however, some encouraging news finally arrived for Pistons fans. In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Griffin said he’s “very close” to making his season debut.
“I’m close, very close,” Griffin told The Athletic. “The training staff tells me it’s one day at a time. They tell me what I’m doing the next day, and that’s it, because they know I’d go crazy if I have a timetable.
“The team has a plan and I trust our training staff. They know what they’re doing so I’m going to listen to them.”
Griffin also told Charania that he has no regrets about playing through a meniscus tear in the playoffs. “I would do it over again, especially in the playoffs, for sure,” Griffin said. The veteran underwent surgery to repair the injury during the offseason but has since dealt with subsequent knee and hamstring problems.
His impending return is obviously great news for the Pistons. They’ve stayed afloat thanks to some truly Herculean play by Andre Drummond, who already has four 20-20 games and is averaging 22.1 points and 18.7 rebounds. But expecting him to play like this for an entire season is unrealistic, and even if he could, the Pistons would still need Griffin back if they hope to make it two straight trips to the playoffs.
Griffin seemed revitalized last season in his first full campaign with the Pistons and played some of the best basketball of his career. He averaged a career-high 24.5 points, and became a legitimate 3-point threat, knocking down 36.2 percent of seven attempts per game. Operating as a point forward, he almost singlehandedly made the Pistons’ offense respectable. When he was on the floor last season, their offensive rating was 109.8, which would have been good for 16th in the league. But when he sat, it plummeted to 102.9, a mark that would have ranked last in the league.
Assuming he’s 100 percent when he does return to the floor, there’s no reason to doubt that Griffin can have a similar impact this season. He may not have the athleticism that he boasted back in his Lob City days with the Clippers, but he’s still an elite offensive player and a matchup nightmare for opponents. His presence on the floor alone will make life much easier for everyone else on the Pistons.
Courtesy: CBS Sports