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Projecting the Hornets in 2010-2011

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Published: September 9, 2010

It’s the time of year for us to make predictions.  The rosters are generally settled, so now line-ups can be extrapolated.  The Hornets are a bit of an enigma at this point.  Though not much is expected of them, no one wants to dismiss them out of hand either, because they still have Chris Paul.  They still have David West.  Thornton and Ariza make the best wing duo the Hornets have had in a decade.  Oh, and Okafor isn’t actually that bad.

So what can the Hornets expect?  It’s time to do the numbers.

Now, the past two years, I’ve just put together a single estimate to figure out what the Hornets could produce, using Dave Berri’s Wages of Wins model.  I haven’t however, done that great of a job.  So this season I decided to create a range of wins for the team.  To derive it, I’ve put together a scenario where nothing goes particularly right for the Hornets.  Then I put together one where almost everything goes well for them.  Using those predictions, I can then make a range – and take the average to set my prediction.  Oh, and I don’t try to predict catastrophic injuries, since there’s just no way to do that. Instead, I predict games played based on career averages, with a slight weighting towards the last couple seasons.  Here we go:

It was Nice Having you Here, Paul

This is the scenario where things just don’t go the Hornets way.  It includes the following assumptions

  • Chris Paul produces per game like he did last year, which was a very off year for him as he tried to play through injury.
  • The Marcus Thornton we saw last year is the same one we see this year, and he doesn’t improve.
  • Trevor Ariza refuses a lesser offensive role, and continues to force shots at a soul-crushing rate.
  • David West and Peja Stojakovic decline faster.(West has had a very gentle decline the past two seasons)
  • Emeka Okafor, Marco Belinelli, Aaron Gray and Darius Songaila play like they did last year.
  • Shakur and Brackins contribute nothing meaningful.  Pondexter struggles.

Here are the results:

Players G MPG* Minutes WP48 Wins Produced
Chris Paul 68 38 2584 0.328 17.66
Emeka Okafor 82 32 2624 0.154 8.41
Trevor Ariza 72 34 2448 0.111 5.67
Marcus Thornton 82 32 2624 0.092 5.03
David West 70 38 2660 0.085 4.7
Aaron Gray 60 12 720 0.235 3.53
Quincy Pondexter 70 16 1120 0.025 0.59
Marco Belinelli 60 16 960 0.026 0.52
Mustafa Shakur 70 10 700 0 0
Craig Brackins 70 14 980 0 0
Peja Stojakovic 60 20 1200 -.020 -0.5
Darius Songaila 75 14 1050 -0.129 -2.8
Total 42.8 Wins

43 wins.  In the West, that’s out of the playoffs, and probably only a 10th seed. It would also, I’d assume, be a death knell for Paul’s tenure in New Orleans.

*Remember, the minutes per game are averages.  No, I don’t think Brackins, Songaila and Gray will play 40 minutes per game every game.  But they will fill in for injured players sometimes, boosting their averages.

CP3 for MVP

Now here’s the scenario where pretty much everything goes right.  The assumptions:

  • Chris Paul returns to the form he was showing the season before last – and in November and December last year.
  • Marcus Thornton improves moderately.
  • Trevor Ariza accepts a utility role, and returns to numbers he put up as a Laker and Magic . . . er?.  Stupid team name.
  • Okafor figures out how to play with everyone, and returns to the numbers he put up every damn year in Charlotte.
  • Peja and West hold it together for one more season, and produces the same they did last year.
  • So does Belinelli and Aaron Gray.
  • Louis Amundson signs with the team, minimizing Songaila’s role with the team – and letting the Hornets trade him.
  • Craig Brackins plays the sharpshooter role, and produces at the same rate as Peja last year
  • Quincy Pondexter provides a reasonable amount of production for a rookie.
  • Mustafa still does nothing.  I can’t justify him doing more than that.

The results:

Players G MPG* Minutes WP48 Wins Produced
Chris Paul 68 38 2584 0.450 24.23
Emeka Okafor 82 32 2624 0.185 10.11
Trevor Ariza 72 34 2448 0.196 9.99
Marcus Thornton 82 32 2624 0.110 6.01
David West 70 38 2660 0.093 5.15
Louis Amundson 76 16 1216 0.190 4.81
Aaron Gray 60 12 720 0.235 3.53
Quincy Pondexter 70 16 1120 0.050 1.02
Marco Belinelli 60 16 960 0.026 0.60
Peja Stojakovic 60 20 1200 .023 0.58
Craig Brackins 70 14 980 .025 0.36
Mustafa Shakur 70 10 700 0 0
Darius Songaila 75 14 1050 -0.129 -0.86
Total 65.5 Wins

Yeah.  Get your jaw off the floor.  It’s not going to happen, people – that’s just too much going right in a loooong season.  Anything approaching that, however,  virtually guarantees CP3 an MVP award.  Think that might make him stick around?

Prediction
Regardless, the range is 42-65.  Take the average, and you get 53.5 wins – and last season that would have had the Hornets fighting for the 4th seed.  Do I personally think that’s a feasible goal?  Maybe.  I’ve been thinking 49 wins for a month or so.  Still, 53 isn’t that far from 49.

What do you think?

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