COMMENTARY | The New Orleans Hornets are treating their injured superstars more carefully than an Operation game board. Eric Gordon is out four to six weeks with a sore knee and Anthony Davis could miss another two weeks with a stress reaction in his ankle. To no one's surprise, the injury-riddled Hornets are now 3-9.
Although there is plenty of time for the Hornets to get their buzz back, I seriously doubt New Orleans can contend for a playoff berth this year. So Monty Williams needs to use the 2012-13 NBA season to improve the skills of his young players and to evaluate his roster.
Unlike many NBA coaches, Monty Williams has no problem giving his reserves quality minutes. However, the injuries to Davis and Gordon are giving several Hornets an extended opportunity to prove they belong in the NBA. From former lottery picks to undrafted free agents, New Orleans has several reserves who must seize the moment.
Casual Hornets' fans may be surprised to learn that Xavier Henry is a McDonald's All American and an NBA Lottery pick. Although he is a physical specimen, Henry has struggled with his outside shooting, which is not good for an NBA guard. In 11 minutes per game, Henry is shooting 39 percent from the floor and 33 percent on free throws.
Unlike Xavier Henry, I have been impressed with Lance Thomas in his opportunities with the Hornets. Undrafted out of Duke, Thomas worked his way up from the D-League to play in 42 games for New Orleans last season. With Davis injured, Thomas needs more games like his eight point efforts against the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns.
I wasn't sure why the Hornets drafted another forward in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. But I now see that Darius Miller can also play guard. Miller is a rare four-year letterman out of Kentucky and his maturity should see his minutes steadily increase. In 11 games, Miller has converted 7-15 three-point attempts for New Orleans.
Last season, New Orleans was a revolving door of D-League talent as 22 different NBA players donned Hornet jerseys. So far, Dell Demps and Monty Williams have stuck with the opening night roster for the most part, despite injuries, inconsistent play, and bad defense. But if the reserves don't take advantage of their opportunities, New Orleans may start cutting and trading some of these players.
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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