COMMENTARY | Although I consider myself a diehard NBA fan, I had never paid attention to the Summer League before. But this year, I was determined to watch every New Orleans Hornets game on NBA TV so I could get an early look at Anthony Davis. When Davis made the Team USA roster, I still tuned in to see the other young Hornets.
Unfortunately, the Hornets were awful and their other first round draft pick Austin Rivers struggled mightily and got hurt. In fact, only one player impressed me as a New Orleans fan. G Brian Roberts had a great outside shot, ran the Hornets' offense very well, and truly looked like he belonged on an NBA court.
Although he is technically an NBA rookie, Brian Roberts is certainly a basketball veteran. At 26 years old, Roberts brings four years of professional experience to New Orleans from Europe. Brian Roberts is already a proven winner as his previous team, Brose Baskets Bamberg, won the last three German National Championships.
As most of the Hornets' Summer League players went back to their other gigs, I was not surprised that Brian Roberts earned a contract with New Orleans. Now I just had to wait and see if Monty Williams trusted Roberts enough to give him quality minutes. Brian Roberts' ascent up the Hornets' depth chart was hastened by Eric Gordon's sore knee.
The turning point for Brian Roberts came in his second NBA game. With Anthony Davis back in New Orleans with a concussion, Roberts was on the floor late in the game. Protecting a slim lead, Brian Roberts hit two huge free throws to secure the Hornets' upset win. I was very impressed with his poise under pressure for New Orleans.
More importantly, Brian Roberts must have impressed Monty Williams. Since the Bulls' game, Roberts' minutes have steadily increased to the point where he played 30 minutes against the Charlotte Bobcats. In that game, he scored 16 points and distributed eight assists for the Hornets.
I believe that Eric Gordon will continue to find a way to stay off the floor all season in New Orleans. Given his ability to play both point guard and shooting guard, Roberts will be invaluable to the Hornets. Although Anthony Davis will likely be the NBA Rookie of the Year, Brian Roberts will be the NBA surprise player of the year.
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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