COMMENTARY | Never harboring a realistic chance at the postseason, the New Orleans Hornets 2012-13 NBA season has been more about player development than wins and losses. Although the Hornets' roster has a number of young veterans on it, the key players who will determine New Orleans' future fate are the rookies.
Take a closer look at how the New Orleans Hornets rookies have performed in the 2012-13 NBA season.
The first overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Anthony Davis came to New Orleans with unrealistic expectations befitting a 19-year-old rookie. Early in his rookie season, Davis suffered a couple of injuries and struggled to get acclimated to the Hornets' offense.
However, Davis improved as the season wore on and it is now clear that the Hornets have a difference-maker on their roster. Davis leads NBA rookies in rebounds and blocked shots and his 13.4 points per game average continues to rise. Look for Davis to bulk up in the offseason to become more of a physical presence under the basket.
Darius Miller: D+
The Hornets' second rookie out of Kentucky, Darius Miller is a well-rounded player who can help a team in many ways. Miller plays the small forward position and he has made 42.3 percent of his three-point attempts for New Orleans. On the season, Miller is averaging 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
Despite being 6' 8", Miller appears undersized on the court. Although he has a high basketball I.Q. as a four-year player at Kentucky, Miller has failed to make an impact as an NBA rookie. In fact, he spent time in the NBA D-League and has only played in 46 Hornets games this season.
Austin Rivers: C-
Playing alongside rookie phenom Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers played under an intense level of scrutiny in New Orleans this season. Like Davis, Rivers only played one year collegiately and although he always gave great effort for the Hornets, he struggled for much of his rookie season.
One of the best-kept secrets in the NBA is that Austin Rivers had begun to improve before his rookie season ended prematurely with a broken hand. He had become a solid defender, his turnovers were on the decline, and he was driving the lane well for New Orleans. However, he must improve his free throw shooting.
Brian Roberts: B-
Without the fanfare of his fellow Hornets rookies, Brian Roberts earned a roster spot in New Orleans with his outstanding play in the NBA Summer League. A veteran of professional basketball in Europe, Roberts was one of the NBA's oldest rookies this season at 26 years of age for New Orleans.
As Greivis Vasquez's backup at point guard, Roberts proved he belongs in the NBA. Like Vasquez, Roberts lacks the speed and quickness of other NBA point guards, but he can shoot well from outside and run the offense. In a rare start earlier this year, Roberts' 18 assists helped the Hornets end the Denver Nuggets' 15-game winning streak.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He 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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