With Cody Zeller (hand) returning from a month-long absence and logging 23 minutes off the bench behind starting center Bismack Biyombo, there was no room left in the rotation for Hernangomez. Though Hernangomez has routinely turned in near-double-double production on the occasions he pushes for 20 minutes, it doesn't look like he'll approach that level of playing time at any point in the foreseeable future now that Zeller is in the fold. His outlook won't necessarily improve after Thursday's trade deadline passes, especially if the Hornets remain in the mix for Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol, as recent reports have suggested.
Hernangomez registered 11 points (5-12 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-2 FT), 11 rebounds and one block across 21 minutes in Monday's 101-92 victory over the Knicks.
Hernangomez saw a little extra run in Monday's contest from the bench, most likely because it his his former playing team, and put up a double-double in the process, his third of the season. When given time, Hernangomez operates as a big body who can rebound and finish inside, but his uses outside of that are limited and therefore, so is his role and outlook.
Starter Bismack Biyombo went scoreless across nine minutes and the Hornets were minus-13 during his time on the court, prompting coach James Borrego to lean more heavily on Hernangomez at center. As has often been the case when he's received extended run, Hernangomez turned in double-double production, but it's hardly an indication that he'll stick in a 20-plus-minute role going forward. Hernangomez had played no more than 14 minutes in any of the Hornets' preceding four contests and could very well return to that level of playing time Saturday against the Suns.
Hernangomez compiled just seven points, eight rebounds, and one assist in 13 minutes during Friday's 127-96 loss to Portland.
Hernangomez disappointed again Friday, seeing just 13 minutes of playing time in the embarrassing loss. When Cody Zeller (hand) went down it was hoped Hernangomez would step into a larger role. Thus far he is yet to show much on either end of the floor and he is at best a streaming option. If you are holding onto him and deciding whether to pick up a hot free agent, this performance may have made that decision a lot easier.
This was the type of performance the Hornets and fantasy owners were looking for from Hernangomez when he got first crack at the starting center job following Cody Zeller's hand injury on New Year's Eve. The third-year big has ceded the first-unit spot at the five to veteran Bismack Biyombo over the last two games after a six-point, 10-rebound effort against the Mavericks as a starter last Wednesday, but Sunday's production may vault him back into the top job. The difference for Hernangomez versus the Suns was shooting, with the 24-year-old posting a 66.7 percent success rate that outpaced the 40.0 percent figure he generated over the previous pair of contests. Hernangomez's next opportunity to re-enter the starting five will come Tuesday night against the Clippers.
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