After missing six games with a left shoulder sprain, veteran big man Andre Drummond finally displayed enough mobility during the pre-game warm-up to get the head nod to return to action.
While there was definitely some rust that still needed to be worked through, Drummond quickly registered two rebounds in his five minutes of work.
Coach Billy Donovan was just glad to have his reserve center back out there.
“Certainly on the glass, rebounding,” Donovan said, when asked what was lost with Drummond sidelined. “He’s been an elite rebounder. Going back to that Toronto game in Toronto, we really got hurt with the impact he would or would not have made.
“He’s another screener, a guy that can roll and put pressure at the basket. He’s been a really positive addition for us, and for the minutes he’s gotten he’s played really well.”
That’s a bit of an understatement.
In just 16.8 minutes per game entering the meeting with the Pelicans, Drummond was averaging 10.2 rebounds per game. That would translate to about 20 rebounds per game if he was a 30-minute guy.
He also led the Bulls in player efficiency rating with 22.81, just in front of DeMar DeRozan’s 21.39.
What Donovan has really liked about Drummond is how he’s worked coming off the bench, especially with that second unit. The top five plus-minus leaders on the team so far this season have been the bench players, led by Alex Caruso and his plus-71. Drummond was fifth, sporting a plus-29.
Even with Drummond’s return, however, the Bulls were still playing a bit short-handed, as Coby White remained sidelined with a thigh contusion.
The Bulls are off until Sunday, and Donovan was hoping that White could be ready to return then.