Summers Time: Forward Receives Major Opportunity to Play
By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer
January 25, 2012

After being used sparingly during his first two professional seasons with the Detroit Pistons, DaJuan Summers No. 1 priority during the 2011 offseason was to find a team that might give him the chance to earn playing time. Summers ultimately decided to sign as a free agent with the Hornets in early December, viewing New Orleans as a place that could jump-start his NBA career.

There were two main reasons I came here, Summers explained days after signing a contract. I really liked the staff, from the GM down to the coaches. And I thought this would be a great opportunity to be able to play.

He had no idea how quickly that assessment would be proven correct.

Just 11 games into the regular season, the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder moved into the starting lineup at small forward, after Trevor Ariza was sidelined by a groin injury. In Summers first five games as a Hornet, he logged a total of 123 minutes already approaching the total of 199 minutes he received last season with the Pistons.

Despite missing the bulk of training camp with a knee injury, the Georgetown University product was quickly thrust into a key role. In his second game on Jan. 11, he scored 10 points off the bench against Oklahoma City. Two days later, he heard his name announced during lineup introductions prior to a game vs. Minnesota, just his second-ever NBA start. He registered double-digit points for a second straight game, with 11.

This is my third season in the league, so Im not new to it, Summers explained of his encouraging first two weeks back on the court. Im a highly confident player in myself. I know I can make shots. Ive made shots my whole life.

Although the offensive spark was appreciated by a team off to a sluggish start at that end of the floor, Summers realizes its even more important for him to be effective defensively under second-year coach Monty Williams.

Without a doubt, thats one of Montys pillars being defensively sound and having each others backs on defense, Summers said. Its a team sport. Nobody can guard their man on their own. Help defense is very important, to be able to be there if (an opposing player drives) by their man.

DaJuan was a guy at Georgetown who didnt quite put it together, Williams appraised of the 2009 second-round draft pick. At Detroit they had so many guys (at his position). But hes been around, so he knows enough to be effective. He plays hard.

Summers: I wanted an opportunity here, but beyond that, I wanted to be able to contribute to the team and achieve some of the things I want to achieve in my career. Im still young Im only 23. (Playing for) the Pistons, it wasnt an ideal situation. I think I can right that wrong here.

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