NBA PM: Eric Gordon’s Injury Issue
For a couple of years now, Eric Gordon has been a player that NBA analysts have had their eye on. It was clear from the start that there was something special about Gordon, who averaged 16.1 points as a rookie with the Los Angeles Clippers. So far, the only thing that seems to be able to stop Gordon is the injury bug. He appeared in just 56 games for the Clippers two seasons ago and missed all but seven games of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. Still, New Orleans Hornets head coach Monty Williams believes he will be a cornerstone of their franchise when he finally gets healthy.
“I think so. That’s why we, and other teams, valued him so much this summer,” Williams told HOOPSWORLD. “But he’s dealt with some things, and I think that’s the thing people don’t realize: it’s abnormal to play for a long time and not get hurt. The guys that do it are the ones where we should be like, ‘Wow!’ This game is tough on your body, man. I was just talking to Derek Harper, and we both walk different. It’s just a different deal playing in the NBA. It wears you out, and the way that Eric plays, a lot like Dwyane Wade, those guys are always going to be banged up because they’re so explosive they attack the basket. He’s been really diligent about getting back on the floor, and I’m sure he wants to be right before he steps out there.”
He certainly does, and he hopes to put in 82 games this season to show that he is up for the challenge that life in the NBA presents.
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it,” Gordon told HOOPSWORLD. “I’ve been battling injuries a little bit during this preseason, but it’s been getting a lot better and I’m looking forward to try and get better for the season.”
Gordon was nearly a member of the Phoenix Suns, of course, before the Hornets matched the four-year offer sheet Gordon signed with Phoenix. Though disappointed at first, Gordon is now excited about what’s going on in New Orleans.
“Yeah, I feel pretty good about this Hornets team,” Gordon said. “We’re a young and upcoming team. We definitely got a lot of new players, so we’ve got to build the chemistry and growth since we’ve got a lot of young players, but I think we’re going to be fine.”
Though Gordon is still a young player himself, part of his job this season will be to help mentor Austin Rivers, something Gordon’s looking forward to.
“Well yeah, for sure, he plays my position so I’m definitely looking forward to helping him just like some of the other guys,” Gordon said. “We got a lot of young guys and I’ve never been on a young team like this, but it’s good to progress with them.”
Most people seem to have written off the Hornets this season, seeing them as a rebuilding team that is probably two or three years away from a run for the playoffs. Gordon is optimistic, though, given the way the foundation had been built.
“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of teams even though we’re young,” Gordon said. “All we’ve got to do is have the chemistry down, play up and down real fast and follow our coach’s concepts.”
Anthony Davis is one of the most anticipated young players in the league this season, and the Hornets have high hopes for him. Gordon was already familiar with his game, but has been surprised by some of the new things he’s added over the summer.
“He’s very talented, I like how he plays,” Gordon said. “He has a nice jump shot that was different than when you’ve seen from him in college and he’s a big time shot-blocker. He’s everything that you hear about and I think he’ll be fine once the season starts.”
Even with Gordon healthy and Davis in the mix, this is likely going to be a tough year for the Hornets. Still, Gordon can foresee them being a tough customer, especially at home.
“Yeah, I think so, as long as we have a good start and take care of our home games, I think we have a good chance,” Gordon said. “Our chemistry on the road is going to be something we have to look forward to, it’s going to be a challenge. That’d be good for our fans is definitely be in the playoffs.”
The last time Gordon was really healthy he averaged 22.3 points for the Clippers, shooting 45 percent from the field, 36 percent from three and 83 percent from the free throw line. That’s the Gordon that the Hornets are hoping to have going forward, and if he’s ready on opening night the team might just be better that we expect from the first jump ball.
Dwight Howard’s Shocking Revelation
In talking to reporters today, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard revealed that he was secretly hoping to be a member of the Brooklyn Nets this season.
Oh wait, everyone already knew that.
Wittman Seeking Consistency
Preseason games are not always instructive, as a whole. There are teachable moments, for sure, and they are an opportunity for players to show something and earn a roster spot, but overall the takeaway from preseason games is not always clear. Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman has been pleased with his team’s performance through summer league, however, and hopes that playing in so many close games can carry over to regular season success.
“We’re making strides,” Wittman said in an interview with 106.7 The Fan in Washington, DC. “We’re not where we want to be obviously with the injuries that we have and everything but the one thing our guys have been is resilient. They’ve gone out each and every night of these preseason games and every one of them has gone down to the wire which from the standpoint of teaching and stuff and how to win games late in the game it’s really been good in the preseason. You don’t get that a lot of times. We’ve been lucky enough to be in a lot of close games to really work on those things and how to win games down the stretch.”
Injuries have, of course, been a negative for a Wizards team that has been without Nene or John Wall. Still, the play of rookie Bradley Beal has given Wittman reason to be optimistic. Beal is second on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game in preseason.
“I couldn’t be more pleased, to be honest with you,” said Wittman. “You’re talking about a 19-year-old kid that played one year of college basketball and now he’s being thrown in with the best players on the planet. I think he got a good dose of that last night. He wasn’t on the floor about two or three minutes maybe before he was whistled for two quick fouls guarding Dwyane Wade. He kind of walked by me and says ‘coach I didn’t foul him.’ I said ‘well you have to get used to these things rookie. They’re going to give the benefit of the doubt to a guy like Dwyane Wade. The good thing about that was when I did put him back in there he adjusted to what he had to do to stay on the floor. You can’t teach those kinds of things. Those are instincts that you have and for 19-years-old, the poise that he plays with, is he going to have ups and downs? Absolutely, he’s going to have struggles just like any other rookie does but he’s a guy, who up to this point hasn’t put his head down and not felt sorry for himself. He’s gone out and tried to figure out okay what do I have to do to adjust to what’s going on out on the floor. That’s a good thing.”
There will certainly be ups and downs for the young Wizards this season, but the one thing Wittman hopes to get is a high level of consistency across the board.
“The main thing that I preach to these young guys is consistency,” said Wittman. “As a coach, you always want to know when you put a guy in a game what you’re going to get and not necessarily in stats but how he is going to go out there and perform. Is he going to go out there every night that you put him in the game and play at the level that he is capable of playing? Some guys have done a very nice job of that and other guys need to continue to become consistent from an effort standpoint, going out there knowing what you’re supposed to do and it’s not really a rollercoaster ride. One game you’re playing at a high level and then the next game you don’t even know you’re on the floor. As a coach that’s hard. I don’t want to look down on the bench and say ‘well geez if I put this guy in tonight what am I going to get from him?’ I want to know what I’m going to get each night. I don’t want to worry about which guy is going to show up tonight. That’s the main thing with young guys is to learn that consistency and when you have that consistency then you really begin to develop the things that you’re able to develop but if you’re up one night and down the next then you’re going to plateau and really stay at the same level. The only way you’re going to get better is to be consistent.”
While some around the D.C. area would like to see the Wizards mentioned in the Eastern Conference’s playoff discussion, that is fairly premature for a young group that won’t even start the season with everyone healthy and ready to run. Consistency might be the more important thing for Wizards fans to measure this season, and if they can get it from at least their starting rotation by the end of the season that will be an important step in the team’s rebuilding process.
Front Court Complications For New York?
New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler is nursing a sore knee, which was hurt in a collision with Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace earlier this week. The team is being typically tight-lipped about the results of an MRI performed on the knee yesterday, but if Chandler can’t get back in time for the season opener it could be a bad sign for the Knicks. NJ.com’s Alex Raskin writes:
If Chandler is back on the practice floor this week or next, fans can breathe easy. But if he fails to return to practice in advance of the season opener, then the Knicks might have some real issues on their hands.
Chandler’s knee injury exacerbates an already frustrating injury situation. Amar’e Stoudemire is still dealing with a ruptured cyst in his knee, Rasheed Wallace has been held back by conditioning, Marcus Camby has battled calf issues and isn’t guaranteed to play in the opener and while Kurt Thomas has played well, he’s also 40 and probably incapable of logging too many minutes.
Expectations are high as the Knicks prepare for a 2011-12 campaign with Jason Kidd and a slew of well-known veteran players joining the team, but as things stand injuries could seriously derail the team as they begin the regular season next week. Given how tough the Eastern Conference is expected to be this season, those early games could be critically important. If injuries become a factor, there could be serious repercussions come April.
HOOPSWORLD Season Previews
The 2012-13 NBA season is rapidly approaching and there are plenty of early storylines emerging.
Can the Miami HEAT repeat their championship quest from last season? Is this the final championship run for the aging Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs? Will Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks finally put all of their talent together and join the league’s elite? Can the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, now boasting Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, unseat the Oklahoma City Thunder as Western Conference champions? Is this the year the Minnesota Timberwolves reach the playoffs behind All-Star Kevin Love? Likewise, the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors are poised to make playoff runs of their own, but can they seal the deal? Are the Dallas Mavericks toast, or will their new group of hungry veterans surprise us all?
The HOOPSWORLD team has these questions and more all covered and you can find season previews for all 30 NBA teams by following this LINK.
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