COMMENTARY | One of the last things any sports fan wants to hear is that his or her team is in a rebuilding process. The thought of enduring multiple losing seasons while young players may or may not develop into superstars is not a scenario most fans want. However, this is exactly where fans of the New Orleans Hornets find themselves in 2013.
Despite an 11-26 record, New Orleans has improved as the season has worn on. Anthony Davis has shown flashes of brilliance and could be the Hornets' centerpiece for years to come. Eric Gordon has come back from his knee injury and is finally saying all the right things about New Orleans. However, two other Hornets are playing so well, they must be early contenders to win the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
If you're not even the best center in your own family, how can you hope to ever be one of the best centers in the NBA? This is the kind of talk Robin Lopez has heard ever since he and his brother came to the NBA. In four seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Lopez only started 94 games, while averaging 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
In New Orleans, Lopez has started every game and he's averaging 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. What has impressed me the most is that Lopez has good footwork and a better inside game than I expected. Robin Lopez often found himself in foul trouble with the Suns, but that has not been a problem with the Hornets.
At this point, Robin Lopez is a longshot to win the NBA Most Improved Player Award. But Greivis Vasquez has to be the frontrunner. While Lopez is following the likes of Emeka Okafor and Chris Kaman at center in New Orleans, Vasquez is haunted by the specter of Chris Paul at point guard.
Although I'm not suggesting that Greivis Vasquez is playing as well as Paul did for the Hornets, Vasquez is having one of the best seasons of any NBA point guard. Vasquez is third in the NBA in assists and he has already set career highs in scoring, assists, and rebounds in a game this season. Vasquez' season averages of 14.1 points, 9.1 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game dwarf all his previous numbers.
The Hornets already have a recipient of the NBA Most Improved Player Award on their roster. Ryan Anderson received the honor in 2012 with the Orlando Magic. With emerging stars like Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, and Greivis Vasquez improving by the day around current superstar Eric Gordon, it's easy to see why Hornets' fans in New Orleans are biding their time during this rebuilding process.
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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