It’s “injury season” in the NBA and the Toronto Raptors have been participating fully in what’s often described as the “dog-days” ahead of the All-Star break. Patrick Patterson, Lucas Nogueira and now DeMar DeRozan have been nicked up and Jared Sullinger is just three games back since a broken foot in preseason interrupted his campaign. Under the circumstances, the Raptors need to know how close their presumed starting power forward is to playing normal minutes?
It should be soon.
“It’s going great,” Sullinger told Pro Bball Report after his last game. “Every day it’s getting better. It feels stronger every day. Slowly moving (forward). It’s going to be a process.
“This is the first game that I really felt great about just movement wise and the productivity of the legs, what they were able to produce. They are feeling great.”
Sullinger returned to action with a minutes limit. In part to be cautious and in part because he spent about six weeks after surgery without any weight-bearing activity on the repaired foot.It’s going to take time to regain his conditioning and no one wants to see any setbacks.
“With all the running I’m doing trying to get my lungs back and on top of that the shooting right after,” Sullinger said. “We’ll see, we’ll see, we’ll see. That’s just how it feels every day. There are going to be ups and downs, but I’m slowing battling thru things.”
So how close is Sullinger to reclaiming his starting spot in the lineup and playing 24+ minutes a night?
“It’s just conditioning,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought he did an excellent job of going in screening, finding the middle, finding people on the weak side. It’s going to take him 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 games, I don’t know how many it is to get in condition where he can go long extended minutes. That’s going to be up to him how much he can handle.”
On that time-frame look for Sullinger to be back to playing his typical 24-28 minutes a night by the weekend – the slumping Raptors can only hope.