Well, it looks like we’ll finally get our first look at the full-strength Hornets tomorrow night, as Coach Monty Williams has said that “the plan is to probably bring [Gordon] back Saturday.” So it looks like barring (yet) another setback, Eric Gordon will make his 2012-2013 debut Saturday night against Charlotte, after missing the first 29 games of the season. And all I can say is, good luck Eric, and you’d better impress quickly if you want to have any hope of winning over New Orleans fans.
For those who weren’t following the offseason, Gordon signed a 4-year, $58 million offer sheet with Phoenix, then went on to talk about how much he wanted to play for the Suns, before the Hornets matched the offer to retain him. This (perhaps understandably) turned off a lot of local fans. I tried to not hold it against him, figuring that he was just playing the free agency game, and that he’d be ready to go for the season and motivated to help the team.
Then it’s announced just a couple of days before the season that he’d be out “indefinitely,” which was initially estimated at four to six weeks. The rumblings from the fans just kept getting louder, and even I was at the point of wondering what we might be able to get in a trade, and if anyone would even want to trade for an injured player with a big contract, as good as that player might be.
If Gordon is truly healthy though, look out. This Hornets team has been much more competitive than their record suggests, and quite frankly have been an Eric Gordon away from turning a lot of those losses into wins. In many of their games the Hornets have been close late with opportunities to win, but just lacked that sure-handed closer that was ready to take the game into his own hands. Austin Rivers, filling in for Gordon in the starting lineup, has struggled to shoot consistently, and as impressive as Ryan Anderson’s play has been, his best offensive value is as a spot-up shooter, not taking over the offense in the final seconds of a close game.
I’ve said all along that a healthy, motivated Eric Gordon is one of the top two-guards in the NBA. He gave us a taste of that in his abbreviated 9-game 2011-12 season, where he averaged over 20 points per game and the Hornets went 6-3. Now he’s got a much better supporting cast to work with, and while the team is currently sitting in last place, there are still over 50 games left in the season. There’s plenty of time to right the ship.
Other observations on the season thus far:
Greivis Vasquez’s improvement from last year to this year has been incredible, as he’s developed into one of the better point guards in the Western Conference. Currently ranked fifth in assists per game, Vasquez has secured the starting role as his own, and rather than trying to start Austin Rivers at point alongside Gordon (as was the supposed plan before the season), Rivers will likely move to a bench role when Gordon returns to the starting lineup.
Anthony Davis’s rookie season has seen its ups and downs, to be sure. He’s looked like a monster in some games, and missed extended time with injuries. But he has been a consistent contributor when he has played, and never truly turned in a real dud of a game. Aside from the game early in the season against Philadelphia where he had to leave early with a concussion, Davis has only failed to reach double digit points twice (scoring eight each time), but in one of those games he still had 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, and in the other he had 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Davis continues to develop and look more and more like the player Hornets fans were hoping for ever since the Draft Lottery, and if it weren’t for having missed 13 of the first 19 games, might well be in the running for an All-Star nod.
[caption id="attachment_91" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Perhaps the savviest move made this offseason by the Hornets. All this guy cost us was something called "Gustavo Ayon.""][/caption]One Hornet who DOES deserve All-Star consideration, however, is Ryan Anderson. Anderson has single-handedly kept the Hornets in many games with his 3-point shooting, and currently leads the NBA in 3-pointers made. Unfortunately, the sheer number of great forwards (with much bigger names than Anderson) in the Western Conference make it unlikely that he’ll receive that honor, however he could well be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year, should the Hornets stay healthy enough to keep him coming off the bench for the necessary number of games.
The season’s far from over. Our best player is about to return. Time to turn it around.Back to the New Orleans Pelicans Newsfeed