New Orleans Hornets: Why Eric Gordon Won't Live Up to Hype in 2012-2013 Season

Louis GertlerContributor IIJuly 30, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22:  Eric Gordon #10 of the New Orleans Hornets scores on a layup against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Hype about a player is a funny thing in team sports.

On the one hand, it can excite a fan base about the vast potential of a budding star, and therefore the prospects of the home team's success.

On the other hand, it can lead to outsized expectations that go unfulfilled, causing a fan base to experience disappointment and even anger.

Unfortunately, it appears we are heading down the latter road with Eric Gordon.

Let's first talk about the positives that are giving rise to the hype.

Gordon has had the whiff of "next-big-thing" about him ever since the Clippers drafted him with the seventh pick in the 2008 draft. Since he entered the NBA, he has been one of those natural-born scorers that make NBA head coaches salivate and always seem to be on the precipice of stardom.

Gordon has also proven that he can be a game changer on the court.

In his very first game for the Hornets last season, Gordon scored 20 points and hit the winning shot against the Suns. In the nine games he played for the Hornets last season, he averaged 20.6 points per game. And, more importantly, the Hornets won six of the nine games he played in.

Gordon's offensive prowess, coupled with the fact that he is only 23 years old, is, of course, a major reason why the Suns recently offered him a max contract; and the Hornets matched it, despite his limited appearances last season.

But therein lies the rub. Gordon only played in nine games last season due to injury.

And it wasn't just last season that Gordon struggled with injuries.

Over the last three seasons, he has missed dozens of games for various injuries ranging from a severely sprained wrist to cartilage damage in his knee. In fact, since the 2009-2010 season, Gordon has missed at least 20 games a season due to injury.

Some NBA players seem to have almost a predisposition for injuries.  Season after season, these fragile athletes are always battling an array of ailments and sitting on the bench in street clothes for large blocks of games.

Unfortunately, Gordon appears to be one of those players who simply cannot stay on the floor.

And if he is not on the court, he cannot possibly live up to the hype let alone help the Hornets fulfill their potential as a team.

There is another problem as well.

Even though some thought the Hornets could have handled the Gordon's restricted free agency better, Gordon showed an almost shocking level of immaturity during the process.

There was his infamous "Phoenix is just where my heart is now" statement; his petulant complaints about the Hornets' drafting of Austin Rivers; and his almost pathetic lament that the Hornets' brass did not shower him with enough affection during his restricted free-agency period.

This behavior raises very real concerns about whether Gordon can actually be the leader of the Hornets' young team—like he now says he wants to be—or whether he will ever be the type of star player that can raise a team to that next level.

It also points to one inescapable conclusion: Between his injury-prone nature and immaturity, it is highly unlikely that Gordon will live up to the hype that has been surrounding him during his short career.