New Orleans Hornets fans certainly have a lot to be excited about these days. A new owner, the drafting of Anthony Davis, and the signing of Eric Gordon give Hornets fans hope that the team's rebuilding process may be in hyperdrive. But will all the buzz translate into a playoff appearance for the 2012-13 New Orleans Hornets?
Although most NBA fans would scoff at the notion of New Orleans making the playoffs this season, those same fans probably didn't expect to see the Hornets in the 2011 NBA Playoffs either. But head coach Monty Williams quickly fixed Byron Scott's mess and somehow led the Hornets to the seventh seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.
Of course, Monty Williams will not have the luxury of Chris Paul and David West this season as he did two years ago. Instead, two rookies could be starting at those positions, respectively. In fact, the key to New Orleans' success this season and beyond could depend on a bold gamble the Hornets made in the last draft.
This formula doesn't hold true for all NBA teams. But whenever the Hornets have made the playoffs, they always had an All-Star caliber point guard leading the way. In 2012-13, New Orleans hopes to convert Austin Rivers into an NBA point guard. If Summer League play is any indication, it may take Rivers quite some time to acclimate to the position.
I hope Monty Williams doesn't force Austin Rivers into the starting lineup if he isn't ready. That wouldn't be good for Rivers or the Hornets. In the meantime, I would love to see Greivis Vasquez be the starting point guard. Vasquez is more than capable of keeping New Orleans in the playoff hunt if a certain player can stay healthy.
Unfortunately, keeping Eric Gordon healthy may be more difficult than teaching Austin Rivers how to play point guard. But in only nine games last season, Gordon led a severely undermanned Hornets team to a 6-3 record. I'm not a fan of Gordon's sour attitude towards New Orleans. However, he always played to win last year once the game started.
The problem with Eric Gordon has always been getting him on the court. In four NBA seasons, Gordon has only averaged 51 games played per season. If New Orleans somehow keeps Gordon healthy for at least 75 games, then the Hornets can certainly contend for a playoff spot.
Nothing would make me happier than seeing this young New Orleans team in the NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately, I believe too many things would have to go right to make that happen. The Hornets 'can' make the playoffs, but I don't think they 'will.' Regardless, the future is bright in New Orleans and 2012-13 should still be an exciting season.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Hornets. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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