by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista

Since 2011, the Hornets have been a team in transition: new ownership, new players and soon, a new team name and logo.

Perhaps the new identity will signal a change on the court as well. After trading face of the franchise Chris Paul to the Clippers, the Hornets have been waiting on Eric Gordon to lead the organization into its new chapter.

After dealing with knee issues that kept him out of the lineup all but nine games last season, Gordon is finally back and already making an impact. In 17 games this season, he is averaging 17 points in just under 30 minutes. More importantly, the Hornets are 10-7. Without Gordon on the court, the team went 7-26.

With a young roster that includes 2012 first overall pick Anthony Davis and Most Improved candidate Greivis Vasquez, the Hornets have a foundation to build around. The big X-factor is Gordon, and whether he can return to pre-injury form as one of the most promising shooting guards in the West.

The All-Star game returns to New Orleans next year—adding a little incentive to Gordon’s journey back.