LeBron going back to Cavs:

Does This Hornets Team Have the Nucleus of a Future NBA Contender?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | If a sports fan ever wanted a clear example of a rebuilding process, he need look no further than the 2012-13 New Orleans Hornets. As one of the youngest teams in the NBA, the Hornets are suffering through a 7-25 season filled with injuries, turnovers, defensive breakdowns, and inconsistency from quarter to quarter.

The one thing making this season even remotely tolerable for Hornets' fans is the promise of the future. Rookie phenoms like Michael Jordan and LeBron James didn't just walk into the league and win the NBA Finals. Jordan didn't win an NBA title until his seventh season and James didn't win the NBA Finals until his ninth season.

But these players did make their teams NBA contenders fairly quickly. Jordan reached the Eastern Conference Finals in his fifth NBA season and James did the same in his fourth NBA campaign. Since the Hornets have never reached the conference finals (in Charlotte or New Orleans), I'd take that kind of NBA season in a heartbeat.

The team that draws the most comparisons to the Hornets is the Thunder. NBA fans and the media continue to point out how that team struggled when Kevin Durant arrived. The Sonics (Durant played one year in Seattle) went 20-62 in 2007-08. Three years later, they reached the Western Conference Finals.

History proves that talent eventually rises to the top in the NBA. What I currently see on the floor in New Orleans is a lot of talent that should eventually translate into a winning team. With experience and muscle gain, Anthony Davis will be an NBA All-Star. Ryan Anderson is a unique talent who can shoot from the perimeter and rebound.

What Monty Williams will eventually need to figure out is how to manage Davis and Anderson's minutes. Currently, Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson both play PF, which necessitates Anderson coming off the bench when Davis is healthy. In the future, Davis may need to move to C with Robin Lopez coming off the bench.

Some fans may disagree with this assessment, but I believe Greivis Vasquez should be the Hornets PG of the present and the future. Over time, Vasquez will become more acclimated to his teammates, which will see his turnovers go down.

If he's happy and healthy, Eric Gordon can be a star for the Hornets. I'm not convinced Gordon will be in New Orleans long-term, but if he is, he can certainly make the Hornets contenders. The two things the Hornets need most can be addressed in one move: experience and a small forward.

Whether it's by trade or a free agent signing, New Orleans needs a good small forward who's an experienced winner. I'm referring to a player like Robert Horry. With one or two minor moves and a couple of years of experience, I believe this Hornets team has the nucleus of a future NBA contender.

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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