1. Eric Gordon will play at least 60 games.
As I wrote in my preview of the Hornets’ season a week ago, Eric Gordon’s status may hold the key to the Hornets’ success. They finished last in the west a year ago, but were 6-3 in games where Gordon played. Gordon had knee surgery late in the season and thus far has not participated in any contact drills or preseason games.
Gordon has a history of missing time, only having played in about two thirds of games since entering the NBA (205 out of 312), and only playing more than 62 games once, his rookie year. But call it a hunch, call it hopeless optimism, call it whatever you want. I think he remains relatively healthy and is around for most of the season. The time off should have allowed him to get as healthy as he’s likely going to be able to get, and now that he has a new contract with the Hornets, he doesn’t have to worry about hurting himself in a contract year (so he’ll be less likely to shut himself down at the end of the season). He may miss a few games at the beginning of the season, and they may give him a night off from time to time if his knee is sore, but Gordon will avoid any serious injury, and will play at least 60 regular season games.
2. Anthony Davis will average at least 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game, AND make the All-Star team on the way to being named Rookie of the Year.
I was going to just predict the ROTY award for Davis, but there’s nothing bold about that. So I’ll take a stab at his stats as well. Davis, as I’ve written before, looks as NBA-ready as any rookie that I can remember since LeBron James, and he will immediately become the centerpiece of his team. As important as Eric Gordon’s health is to the team’s immediate success, Davis will be the franchise guy for the foreseeable future for the Hornets. I think Davis flirts with averaging a double-double in his debut year, and will rank among the league leaders in blocked shots as well.
Additionally, Davis will be named to the Western Conference All-Stars, which would make him only the second rookie since 2003 (Blake Griffin in 2011) to achieve that honor. After all that, a Rookie of the Year trophy will seem like a formality.
Other possible honors that Davis may achieve, or at least be in the running for: First Team All-Rookie (all but certain), First-Team All-Defense (Not unreasonable at all), Defensive Player of the Year (unlikely that he'll win this as a rookie, but he may very well get some votes).
3. The Hornets will go 46-36 and be a playoff team in 2012-13.
Can a team go from last place to playoffs in one season? Why not? The Hornets will have two all-star caliber players that they did not have last year (Davis and, for all intents and purposes, Gordon), and have added several role players that will serve to upgrade the supporting cast from last year.
They aren’t a serious title contender this season, as they are too young, too inexperienced, and will certainly go through some growing pains as they learn to play together. But if my first two predictions come through, if Gordon can stay (somewhat) healthy, and Davis is as good as advertised (and if the preseason is any indication, he is), there’s no reason this team can’t grab a low seed in the playoffs. They’ll likely meet an early exit at the hands of Oklahoma City, the Lakers, or some other top team, but the message sent will be clear: this team is for real, and will be a force to be reckoned with in the (perhaps not-so-distant) future.Back to the New Orleans Pelicans Newsfeed