Eric Gordon's troublesome knee has marred his tenure with the New Orleans Hornets and will hinder him from becoming the superstar the team had hoped he would be. Gordon has yet to take so much as a meaningful dribble for the Hornets this season.
The initial timetable for the franchise guard's return was four to six weeks, as of Nov. 2. That would mean Gordon should be ready by mid-December.
The former Clipper has played all of nine games for New Orleans since being the centerpiece of last year's Chris Paul trade. The issue with his right knee is the latest injury in a career filled with medical setbacks.
When healthy, Gordon is one of the game's best shooting guards and most talented scorers. He averaged 20.6 points last year in his first season with New Orleans. However, the former Indiana Hoosier has never played a full NBA season in his career.
That lack of durability will prevent Gordon from reaching his potential. Assuming Gordon does return on time, what kind of player will he be? Will he be tentative driving to the hoop out of fear of re-injuring his knee? Will he lose his explosiveness? Those questions won't be answered until he gets on the court.
If the struggles of Brandon Roy have taught us anything, knee troubles can cut short a bright career. Roy retired from the Trail Blazers at the age of 27 after numerous knee surgeries. He made a comeback this season with the Timberwolves, but has been slowed by issues with his knee.
Coming into this season, Gordon had already missed 107 games in his four-year career due to injuries. That's a lot of damage to the body in a short time span. That's especially worrisome for a guard who likes to attack the basket like Gordon does. If the knee continues to be unstable, it could also affect Gordon's jumper when he bends his knees to shoot.
The keys to being an NBA superstar are reliability and consistency. Kobe Bryant has had a number of injuries throughout his career. He still manages to play through them, and the Lakers know they can depend on him to produce.
The same can't be said about Gordon and the Hornets. New Orleans drafted Austin Rivers with the No. 10 overall pick this past June to potentially be their franchise point guard but also to be insurance for Gordon. It's hard to call yourself a "superstar" when your team is already drafting your possible replacement.
At the end of the day, Eric Gordon has the talent to be one of the game's best. He's a gifted scorer with an amazing shooting touch, but his ceiling as a basketball player will always be limited by his fragile body.
The greatest players to ever step on the hardwood were dependable and durable. They had long, productive careers, and they established themselves as franchise guys. The chances of Gordon being among those men continues to look bleak as his knee keeps swelling up.
For now, Gordon's chances at superstardom are as uncertain as his potential return to the court.