NEW ORLEANS — Monty Williams isn’t generally one for words.
He’s not going to give some grandiose vision of the future.
The Hornets coach has tunnel-vision and it’s allowing him to see only the present.
The rest, he likes to say, is “something for you guys to talk about.”
So let’s talk.
Friday night, at the NOrena, those donning the Hornets on their hearts witnessed the present and the future.
They saw a young, inexperienced Hornets team slog through a first-half and still find it pertinent to fight like hell in the second half despite being down 29 at halftime.
They also saw a young, experienced Thunder team take what was given to them and take the game to New Orleans and coast to a 15-point win.
In a few seasons, the Hornets could be the Thunder.
Though, not if Williams has his way.
“We can’t keep comparing ourselves to other teams because we don’t want to be like anybody else,” Williams said. “We want to be a championship team some day. We want to set our own model up for other teams to look at.”
But it’s inescapable to not look at Oklahoma City and see New Orleans’ future.
Anthony Davis could be Kevin Durant, an athletic big man who is a matchup nightmare. Austin Rivers could be Russell Westbrook, an athletic guard who can find open players while occasionally scoring points. Ryan Anderson could be Kevin Martin, the spark off the bench who helps the second unit stick around or extend the lead.
Yes, New Orleans could see Oklahoma City’s success.
There are lessons to be learned, however, and as much as the Hornets are looking for success this season, that’ll be hard to come by.
Lesson one was learned between the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against Houston and the first half Friday night.
The Rockets outscored the Hornets by 21 points in that second quarter. Against Oklahoma City, New Orleans was outscored by 29 in the first half.
It’s a rough lesson to be taught.
“For us, when you don’t have a go-to guy, you have to play with supreme effort and it’s a tough thing to do,” Williams said. “Our effort is high but understanding that we have to do more because we are inexperienced and we’ve got a bunch of new guys. That’s a tough thing.”
In the Williams Era, the Hornets have generally played hard from start to finish. What they’ve been lacking is a killer instinct and that go-to player.
The one piece the Hornets are missing is the killer down the stretch. Well, not missing.
He’s on the roster; Eric Gordon is technically a Hornet, even if just by paycheck.
Get Gordon to buy in and yes, the Hornets indeed could become the Thunder.
There’s no doubt the lessons will continue this season.
But one thing is for sure – the future is bright.