New Orleans Hornets: Eric Gordon Returns from 3-Month Absence

Percy Dinozo@PercyDinozoCorrespondent IApril 4, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Eric Gordon #10 of the New Orleans Hornets passes the ball around Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers  at New Orleans Arena on January 4, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Eric Gordon, the centerpiece of the Chris Paul trade last December, will finally return to action for the New Orleans Hornets tonight against the Denver Nuggets.

Coach Monty Williams intends to play Gordon for 25-30 minutes in his first game since Jan. 4. "He's a young guy; he can do that in his sleep," Williams added.

While there are only 13 games remaining, Coach Williams noted that he is "really looking forward to seeing him, when he does start playing, in our system."

Currently holding the third-worst record in the NBA, Hornets fans may want to hope that Gordon is very, very rusty.

When healthy, Gordon is easily New Orleans' best offensive threat. In the long term, his ability to recover from his injury will be paramount to the Hornets' success.

Just don't rush back to your former self.

Monty Williams has done an excellent job given the circumstances, so he should not feel the need to push Gordon into service.

This makes starting Gordon, and penciling him in for a relatively heavy dose of minutes, seem a little strange, given what is left to play for—a top-three draft pick.

With a legitimate shot at a game-changing draftee in the Kentucky Wildcats' Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and also the North Carolina Tar Heels' Harrison Barnes, a slow recovery that includes a number of Hornets' losses over the next 13 games is the best-case scenario.

Williams' desire to see how his players will mesh together is legitimate, but next year's offseason workouts and preseason games will also give him a good sense of how to mix and match his personnel.

And wouldn't he find his personnel choices that much easier to make if, say, Anthony Davis was on his team alongside a healthy Eric Gordon?