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What Leuer’s Injury Means for Detroit

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Detroit Pistons back-up power forward Jon Leuer had surgery on Wednesday to repair a right medial meniscus injury, which occurred during an off-season workout per the team’s announcement on Thursday. The injury was sustained earlier this week and the team acted quickly with Leuer undergoing the procedure just days after.

While the team announced he has no set timetable for return, the average timeline for return from a meniscus tear is about 40 days, according to a 2012 study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

The Pistons stated that the injury is not serious and that his rehabilitation would begin immediately. They also stated that his status would be updated before the start of training camp in late September. However, if the injury does become more serious due to any issues throughout the rehabilitation process, the Pistons front-court depth will take a severe hit.

What Does This Mean For Detroit?

Leuer was expected to bounce back from a 2017-2018 campaign in which he only played in eight games due to an ankle injury and subsequent surgery which cost him the remainder of the season.

Last year, the Pistons managed to maintain some depth in the front-court offset Leuer’s absence with the presence of fan-favorite power forward Anthony Tolliver. Tolliver played substantial minutes off the bench and was a spark of energy for the second unit as well as a solid three-point shooting threat that could stretch the floor. Tolliver was lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in free agency, so Leuer’s services will be needed even more now.

Who Will Have To Step Up?

The Pistons instead spent $2.4 million on a one-year deal with former Golden State Warrior center Zaza Pachulia. Pachulia brings a veteran presence to the Pistons’ locker room along with some much needed winning prestige, having won two championships with the Warriors. In addition to Pachulia, the Pistons are hoping that their 2016 first round draft pick power, Henry Ellenson, can take a big step forward. Ellenson was drafted with the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft and has been somewhat of a disappointment since then. The third-year power forward has not seen many in-game minutes due to former coach Stan Van Gundy’s hesitance to play rookies and young players for large roles, but even in lesser minutes Ellenson’s performances have not been very impressive.

The Pistons will need Pachulia and Ellenson to pick up the slack left behind in Leuer’s absence, otherwise they may risk having another season thrown off track due to injury. Leuer is in the third season of a four-year, $42 million contract which he signed back in the summer of 2016.

Leuer averaged 5.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.6 assists across 17 minutes per game in just 8 appearances last season. His performance has been exciting at times (when healthy), but his overall tenure with the team has not panned out the way most Pistons fans would have expected, especially considering his hefty price tag.

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