COMMENTARY | When the New Orleans Hornets announced that Jason Smith would miss the rest of the 2012-13 season with a torn labrum, the team became even thinner in the frontcourt. Not surprisingly, the Hornets have signed a F/C to replace Smith on the roster. Former Georgetown Hoya Henry Sims is the newest Hornet on what has been a surprisingly stable roster this season in New Orleans.
Like most D-League call-ups, Sims is only signed to a 10-day contract. However, given the fact that Jason Smith is out for the season, Sims has an opportunity to stay in New Orleans if he plays well. Unfortunately, big men who were midseason signees have not fared well with the Hornets under Monty Williams.
In Williams' three seasons in New Orleans, the Hornets have signed a total of nine frontcourt players midseason. Patrick Ewing, Jr., Jeff Foote, Solomon Jones, Chris Johnson, DaJuan Summers, Darryl Watkins, and Dominic McGuire all failed to make a serious impact with the Hornets. Lance Thomas is the only previous midseason signee among forwards and centers who is still with New Orleans. Time will tell if Henry Sims can also beat the odds.
Although not a frontcourt player, Brian Roberts is another example of a free agent success story in New Orleans. Roberts outplayed everyone on the Hornets roster in the 2012 NBA Summer League. Given Eric Gordon's injuries, Austin Rivers' inexperience, and Xavier Henry's underachievement, Roberts made the most of the Hornets' instability at guard to stick with New Orleans and be a key contributor off the bench.
Henry Sims played four years at Georgetown from 2008-12. After three mediocre seasons, Sims had a great senior year averaging 11.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. That season, Sims also ranked ninth in the Big East with 45 blocks. Perhaps most impressively, Sims showed incredible court-vision for a center with 114 assists.
Undrafted out of Georgetown, Henry Sims signed with the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA D-League. In 36 games, the 6-10, 245-pound center averaged 17.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per games. Sims' heroics earned him a spot in the 2013 D-League All-Star Game, where he scored 15 points for the winning team.
Although there are other variables to consider, the success of Damian Lillard coupled with the struggles of Austin Rivers show how an NBA rookie can benefit from playing in college for four years. Henry Sims didn't blossom at Georgetown until his senior season and he has continued to improve as a professional.
Look for Henry Sims to stay in New Orleans for the rest of the season and get a chance to prove he can play in the NBA. The Hornets are not going to the playoffs and Monty Williams is giving his young players invaluable playing time. Henry Sims will have an opportunity with the Hornets to launch what could be a successful NBA career.
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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