What to make of the New Orleans Hornets

Anthony DavisThe New Orleans Hornets are 5-14, have lost eight of their last ten and have been outscored by an average of over seven points per game in those ten games.  So things aren't going very well.  Good news awaits, however, the New Orleans Time-Picayune is reporting that Davis practiced Monday and could be back as early as Tuesday (H/T to SB Nation).

So what do we make of the soon to be Pelicans?  Are they really worse than other Western Conference bottom feeders like the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings (who suddenly are playing like a real basketball team)?  The absense of Davis for all but six games and Eric Gordon for the entire season really has set this team back.  According to ESPN's John Hollinger, they're a middle of the pack offensive team, which is really a testament to how well Ryan Anderson and Greivis, and dead last defensively, which really shows how important Davis already is to them. 

Still, Davis' return isn't an elixir to all of their problems.  First, Davis' return means either less Ryan Anderson or Davis sliding over to center, which given his still narrow frame isn't ideal for him. He'll give them a boost on defense for sure, but the offense could suffer a little bit unless they slide Anderson down to the small forward, which would only bring all of us unintentional comedy from watching him try to chase guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, etc. around.   It's going to be really interesting to see what head coach Monty Williams does to the front court rotation, especially when teams just start packing in the paint because a Vasquez, Austin Rivers, Al-Farouq Aminu, Davis, Robin Lopez starting line up doesn't consist of one above average outside threat.

In addition to injuries, they've also played the second toughest schedule in the league in terms of opponents' winning percentage.  Unfortunately, it's about to even get more difficult.  They host Washington Tuesday night and then the schedule gets ridiculous.  They travel to Oklahoma City Wednesday night, head back home to host Minnesota Friday night and then go on a four game road trip to play Portland, Golden State, the Clippers and San Antonio before returning home to face the Pacers.

Getting Gordon back would mean the world for that Hornet offense.  A crunch time line up of Vasquez, Gordon, Aminu, Anderson and Davis could do a lot of damage.  The problem obviously is there's no indication on when Gordon is going to be back.  Until then, we'll sit back and watch Davis' development and try to figure out which top five draft prospect will fit in best with the soon to be Pelicans.

Photo: USA Today