Hornets Power Rankings- Week One

Published: October 31, 2010

Other sites have their weekly NBA rankings, speculating on how each team stacks up against each other based on some subjective formula and who knows what other criteria. I am not going to pretend like I have watched all 30 NBA teams closely enough to do that with any integrity, but I have watched every Hornet play this season and I feel like I know enough to rank the players on this team. So every week we will update the list and focus on ranking the players from most valuable to least valuable.

This isn’t a ranking of best stats, although stats will be incorporated. Instead, the list will rank players on how much they have contributed to the Hornets success this season, therefore emphasizing how valuable and/or irreplaceable they are. Without further adieu, your week one rankings:

1. Chris Paul: 20.0 PPG, 9.3 APG, 6.0 RPG 50%FG, 90%FT, 43% 3PT 30.3 PER, #1 in NBA in Win Share

Without question, CP3 has been the MVP of this team so far this season. In all three games this season Chris Paul simply willed his team to victory in the final minutes of the game. With 1:03 left in the Milwaukee game, the Hornets were up by 1 point with the ball. Paul drove hard to the hoop and got fouled. Before calmly sinking the two free throws he slapped Emeak in the chest and yelled, “C’mon, it’s winning time!” Thanks to CP3, all the Hornets have experienced this season are winning times.

2. David West:  19.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 57%FG, Highest Points per 40 minutes on the team

If West could stay out of foul trouble, his numbers this season could be phenomenal. He is averaging under 30 minutes per game this season, which is far less than his usual 36-38 MPG. Still, he is as efficient as ever offensively and he is a new man on the defensive end. Perhaps it is Monty or perhaps it is because he does not have to expend so much energy on the offensive end. Whatever it is, D West is back in All-Star form.

3. Marcus Thornton: 11.7 PPG, 52% FG, 23.2 PER, 2nd highest Usage % on the team, 2nd in Pts per 40 minutes

Without Marcus, the Hornets are 2-1 at best, and likely would be 1-2 on the season. Against Denver and in San Antonio, the Hornets offense sputtered, and when it did, Thornton stepped up and provided the spark that the team needed. In the Spurs game his big Buckets slowed the momentum of the Spurs run. No way the Hornets win that game without him.

4. Willie Green: 7.3 PPG, 50%FG, 18.5 PER, .577 TS%

The standard stat sheet might not show that Green has been the 4th most valuable Hornet this season, but a closer look tells you that he has been.  He is 4th on the team in PER and he has played three different positions already in this young season. His versatility, defense, and good decisions so far this season have made him the Hornets biggest surprise.

5. Trevor Ariza: 10.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.7 SPG

Ariza has been tasked with covering the other teams’ best offensive wing every night and has done a good job (except for a couple moments in the Denver game when Melo got hot). His strip of Salmons opening night won the Hornets the game and his rotations this season have been stellar. He will move up this list if he can find his role on the offensive end and if he can cut down on the turnovers.

6. Emeka Okafor:  7.3 PPG, 7 RPG, 60% FG, 1.7 BPG, 67% FT

Okafor’s offensive numbers have been a little disappointing this season, and his rebounding numbers are down as well. Normally Okafor can be counted on for 4 offensive rebounds a night, but this season he is below 2. Those extra 2 possesions could be huge for the Hornets if their games continue to come down to the final two minutes. He needs to stay out of foul trouble and finish around the rim more aggressively and maybe he can move into the top 5 on this list.

7. Marco Belinelli: 8.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2 APG

After a terrific preseason, Marco has had his ups and downs so far during the regular season. His hustle and decision making has been wonderful, but he simply hasn’t found his stroke from deep yet as he is just 3 for 10 on the year.

8. DJ Mbenga: 1.3 BPG, 12.1 Blk% (next highest Hornet is at 5.6%)

Mbenga could never be a starting center in this league and he probably won’t ever be able to give more than 15 minutes a night, but he is a legit 7 footer that makes plays on the defensive end and changes shots. Yes he picks up bad fouls, but when he is on the court he gives this team an element that no other player on the roster can.

9. Pops Mensah- Bonsu: Leader on team in rebounds per 40 minutes

You don’t want Pops doing anything other cleaning up trash on the offensive end, but defensively he has been very versatile. He has covered centers, power forwards, and even Carmelo Anthony and Corey Magette this season.

10. Jerryd Bayless: 3 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.7 APG

Bayless simply has not gotten a chance to get comfortable with his teammates, and as a result he has been a turnover machine. It will take time, as it did for DC last season, but once he cuts down on the turnovers I can see him shooting up this list thanks to his dynamic scoring ability that we have seen in flashes.

11. Peja Stojakovic: 2 Games Played, 5.0 PPG, 50% 3PT

Peja did not even see the court in the San Antonio game, as Monty had no use for him on either end of the court. In the two games he has played, he made a couple of key shots at crucial times and his defense was not horrible.

12. Jason Smith: 6.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 18 MPG

I know I will get killed for this one because the stat sheet says that he has been fairly valuable this season- he is the 8th leading scorer and has played the 7th most amount of minutes. If that makes you feel better, then fine, but this is MY list and MY eyeballs tell me Jason Smith has been the least valuable player of the young season. Yes he hustles, and yes he makes the occasional offensive play, but this team needs bigs that make an impact on the defensive end and Smith has been awful on that end. He is horrible at hedging on pick and rolls and picks up bad fouls 30 feet from the basket that leads to point guards getting 2 easy free throws. His rotations are horrible in the paint and he stops the ball flow when moving it around the perimeter on offense. I am rooting for the guy because I know he wants so bad to do well, but so far he has been the LVH (Least Valuable Hornet).

Not Ranked:

Aaron Gray

Quincy Pondexter

Joe Alexander


  1. Joe Gerrity

    October 31, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I honestly have Emeka as number three on this list. Without him the team is toast on any given night.

    Can we put Monty Williams as 1b?

    • Stefan

      October 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      I agree. I would move Emeka up higher on “MY” list. Just like Willie Green, the stat sheet doesn’t show all the good things he has done this season. If D West and Mek could stay out of foul trouble, we won’t have to win so many close games, because we are letting teams come back from big deficits.

      • TopherPrice

        October 31, 2010 at 5:16 pm

        Completely agree. Point 1: It was his one on one defense that kept Brandon Jennings stuck 8 ft. outside the arc without a lane to drive or option to jack up a three. Point 2: It was his blocks and defense that shut down the Nuggets last run in the 4th. So it is easily arguable that if he had not been there defensively in the clutch we could be 1 and 2. Freaking MEK!

        More importantly it’s this TEAM defense that allows people to individually shine in critical instances. Monty has these guys loving working FOR each other, and that is why I would put him and the coaching staff at a 1B as well.

  2. 42

    October 31, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Based on regular season, I agree with Smith being last. He’s got the potential to move up.

    I agree that Bayless is low for very good reasons and will probably move up once he has time with the guys. I felt like I could see improvement between the games so far, actually.

    Marcus at #3 . . . I have to think about that. Joe’s Emeka comment is spot on. I don’t know, but this is a good problem to have.

    Fun list. i like it.

    • HiMyNameisSteven

      October 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      cp3 west emeka mt5

  3. rm

    October 31, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I would agree with all of this except that I would swap pops and dj though I would won’t I. I don’t totally agree that pops has got no offense, you don’t score 19(Memphis) with put backs alone, plus I have seen big scoring games from him not just in Europe but in the NBA as well. True no outside shot and you wouldn’t run too many plays for him but I have seen him effective in the post and in transition. His offense is better than Mbenga and I know that Mbenga is a big body but still I have Pops in as the first big off the bench ( when playing NBA 2K11 that is ).

    I agree with Joe G that there needs to be a special slot for Monty. I don’t think that he has played the same rotation twice and he is still getting results. He had a bench of underachievers and in every game they have looked good. Massive credit needs to be given to Monty. Now if he can get Pops shooting 15 footers I think that hall of fame beckons!

    • Michael McNamara

      October 31, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      Players only- but on an overall scale Monty gets a ton of credit for the 3-0 start. However, let’s not lose site of the other coaches. Guys like Malone and Ayers are doing a lot and they need to start getting some recognition. People love the offensive ball movement and Malone is more responsible for that than anyone else.

      Okafor played 19 minutes and the Hornets won at San Antonio. If he doesn’t play at all- Hornets could still win that game. If MT5 doesn’t play- Hornets lose, plain and simple.

      Remember, this list has nothing to do with projections moving FORWARD. Rather, it is simply a reflection of what has happened SO FAR. Of course losing Okafor would create a huge hole, but through 3 games MT5 has been a bigger factor and more responsible for the team’s 3-0 start.

    • winze

      October 31, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      Pops will only ever be a 10 min off the bench banger unless someone else gets injured or is in foul trouble. He gets boards and hustles and that is great for the 2nd unit but his offensive game is very raw and limited sadly. He brings good energy though and you can see he wants to play out there

      • rm

        October 31, 2010 at 4:31 pm

        I understand that Hornets are above lux tax and Mbenga, Alexander and Pops are on non guaranteed contracts. If they had to cut 2 who would you cut?
        Mbenga is doing ok but with Gray, and you had to cut why would you keep MBenga? Pops is cover for 4 and 5 and still I have seen exciting offense from him.

      • TopherPrice

        October 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm

        There is no need to worry about who will get cut right now. There is LOTS of basketball before they need to worry about cutting one or two guys to get under the tax. A trade is more likely that may facilitate the tax fix, so I say just enjoy the exciting and unexpectedly potent depth we are seeing from our group of other teams cast offs and cross the tax bridge when we get there.

  4. tyler

    October 31, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    my list
    1 cp3
    2 dwest
    3 mt5
    4 ariza
    5 okafor
    6 willie
    7 belinelli
    8 smith
    9 dj
    10 pops
    11 peja
    12 bayless

  5. tyler

    October 31, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    my bad switch willie and belinelli

  6. Stefan

    October 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    BTW, I love this post. It will be fun debating the rankings throughout the season.

    • Michael McNamara

      October 31, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      Precisely the idea! After CP3 and maybe West, the list is pretty subjectively and is more of a reflection of your personal tastes as a basketball fan. As you can probably tell, I would be a pretty conservative coach who focuses on defense and high IQ. Others like high risk, high reward guys or high upside guys.

      Really looking forward to you guys giving us your lists in weeks to come.

  7. Schmide234

    October 31, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    the two games ive watched and expecially the Denver game i say we were able to win do to Meks defense. he was absolutely superb against Nene and had huge defensive plays in the 4th. he would be my num 4 so far this season. i dont care wat his stats say.

  8. Hornet

    October 31, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    My personal list:

    1. Chris Paul – CP3 playing like the MVP. Not much else to say except his rebounding and turnover ratio has been much better than usual. Could be his career year just like many other 25 year olds.
    2. David West – Mr. Consistency has been… consistent. I really feel the fact it’s a contract year and last year’s failures will drive David to match or even better his 07-08 season. Hope he proves me right.
    3. Marcus Thornton – He’s been awesome. DRtg of 98 and a TOV% of 6.2. Needs to work on seeing screens and getting around them.
    4. Emeka Okafor – Emeka needs to stop getting some silly early fouls but he’s been playing great excluding game one (ORtg: 128! DRtg: 98!)
    5. Trevor Ariza – Ariza needs to be more decisive but defensively he’s been great.
    6. Willie Green – I consider him the leader of the bench and he’s done a great job so far. More consistency with his shot and passing would bump him up.
    7. Marco Belinelli – Marco needs to be more aggressive with his 3 pt taking but also needs to be smart. I’ve seen him take some contested fadeaways but pass up 3s when he had some good space.
    8. Jason Smith – He’s played much better the last 2 games but he was abysmal against MIL. He’s really our only big man that can score off the bench so he needs to be able to hit that mid range jumper off the pick n pop with consistency (Not DWest like but more like the last 2 games and not MIL)
    9. DJ Mbenga – I love blocks. He doesn’t try to do anything on offense which helps because if he did it’d only hurt. Understands his role and helps the defense a bit.
    10. Pops – Good rebounding and energy. That’s pretty much all I’ve seen his 19 minutes of play.
    11. Peja – He’s hitting his shots and playing well on defense. He’d be higher had he played against SA.
    12. Jerryd Bayless – I expect Jerryd to do much better after next week and as long as he’s not turning it over and can get to the line and hit his FTs, I’ll be happy.

    • mark

      October 31, 2010 at 5:57 pm

      If this is just fo fun, then thats cool. However, the biggest reason we are winning is because we are playing as a team. If our players start to worry more about personal stats than playing as a team then i dont see the same results. IE our starters could be wanting more time so their personal numbers go up, but instead they are buying into monty system(same as greg poppovich’s Spurs). Other than our TEAM defense the other great thing i see is multiple people being able to handle the ball on offense. years b4 it was CP or nothing

    • 504ever

      October 31, 2010 at 10:06 pm


      I like your list must better than McNamara’s for a number of reasons, including McNamara’s placement of Jason Smith at 12 and his use of selected random stats to help justify the placement of each player. There is no way Peja (DNP vs. San Antonio) and Bayless (a turnover machine) should be ranked higher than Smith.

      The stats below lists the players based on playing time. Yes I know fouls affected the playing time of West and Okafor, but this list still a very good indicator of how the coach values his players. The PER, another useful equalizer (like minutes played) is on the far right. (I included other statistics for everyone to see, even if the columns don’t line up.)

      My personal list would be based on average minutes and PER added together, with a few exceptions: Peja has a high PER by played few minutes and Bayless’s turnovers pushed him down the list. I’ll put my list below the stats.

      Chris Paul, 35.0 20.0 1.0 5.0 6.0 9.3 1.00 0.00 1.3 2.0 7.0 30.4
      Trevor Ariza, 34.7 10.3 0.0 4.3 4.3 2.3 2.67 0.33 2.3 2.7 1.0 10.9
      David West, 29.7 19.0 1.3 4.3 5.7 1.3 0.33 0.67 1.3 3.3 1.0 23.1
      Marco B., 27.3 8.7 0.0 2.7 2.7 2.0 0.67 0.33 0.7 1.0 3.0 10.0
      Emeka Oka., 25.0 7.3 1.7 5.3 7.0 0.3 0.00 1.67 0.3 3.0 1.0 15.8
      Marcus T., 20.0 11.7 0.3 3.3 3.7 1.3 1.00 0.00 0.7 0.7 2.0 23.3
      Jason Smith,18.0 6.7 0.7 1.7 2.3 1.3 0.00 0.00 1.7 3.7 0.8 6.0
      Willie Green, 16.3 7.3 0.0 3.0 3.0 1.0 0.67 0.00 0.3 1.0 3.0 18.5
      Jerryd Bay., 11.3 3.0 0.7 1.3 2.0 1.7 0.00 0.00 2.3 1.0 0.7 1.0
      Peja(2 gms) 10.5 5.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.00 0.00 1.0 0.5 1.0 17.9
      D.J. Mbeng., 9.3 0.3 0.3 0.7 1.0 0.0 0.33 1.33 0.7 2.3 0.0 -0.5
      Pops M-B, 6.3 0.7 0.7 1.3 2.0 0.7 0.00 0.00 0.3 1.0 2.0 10.1
      Totals 3 – 98.3 6.7 33.0 39.7 22.0 7.33 4.33 13.3 22.0 1.7

      By Combined Average Minutes Played and PER, with two exceptions
      1 cp3: 65
      2 dwest: 53
      3a ariza: 44
      3b mt5: 43
      3c okafor: 41
      6a belinelli: 37
      6b willie: 35
      8 smith: 24
      9 pops: 16
      10 dj: 10
      11 peja: 28
      12 bayless: 12

      • rm

        November 1, 2010 at 5:38 am

        I love stats

      • Michael McNamara

        November 1, 2010 at 6:29 am

        I love stats as well- but where are the stats that show how many free throws each player has given up to dead eye free throw shooters this season? How many times did Smith foul Magette or Billups? How many times did he foul a guy 30 feet from the basket hedging on a pick a roll and give away 2 free points.

        To me, Peja is more valuable sitting on the bench, not hurting us, than Smith is when he is on the floor- killing ball movement, getting out of position, and giving up free throws.

        But I know offensive stats are all that matters, so I wont win this one.

  9. Rob

    October 31, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I’ve watched the first 3 Hornets games, and it seems like it’s difficult to judge Pops’ offensive game given that he’s mainly played with Bayless, Thornton and/or Green on the floor, sometimes all 3 at once (that could be my memory playing tricks) and which is a very guard-oriented lineup, relying on outside shooting or MT5 slashing to the hole, Pops literally didn’t touch the ball on some sets. In the Milwaukee game he looked a bit lost, Peja actually had to shove him out of the way on an offensive set and Corey Maggette got him way up in the air on a pump fake (which I think resulted in a score and the foul) he got schooled. But in the Denver and Spurs games he looked much better defensively, I thought he did a respectable job on Carmelo and was pretty decent on McDyess/Duncan.

    It would be interesting to see what both Smith and Pops could do offensively if Monty mixed up the rotations a bit and got them on the floor with CP3, but hey the team is 3-0 so who am I to question?!

    • rm

      November 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

      I agree we haven’t seen much offense from Pops. I have seen him have 20pts+ games many times and he averaged 26 points for Toros in the D League. He can’t surely have scored these simply in put backs. I know that the NBA is different and he hasn’t got an outside shot but he has been an offensive threat in many of the games I have seen.
      I hope that he can show this or work through why he isn’t getting it don’t so far.
      His NBA stats don’t say good offense but I have witnessed those games where he has dominated, look at his stats for GB, Toros, Granada and Jouvenut! Maybe though he is too easy to defend and NBA guys just are that major step up in terms of defense.
      I hope not because it is exciting to watch.

  10. HornetsGal

    October 31, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I am “new” to the team and therefore not much comment, except CP3 – yes, number one all the way.

    • Joe Gerrity

      November 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      welcome! Your first comment is spot on.

  11. Mikey

    November 1, 2010 at 9:10 am

    First 10, no problem, but I’d have Smith at 11 and Peja at 12. Only reason is that Smith has had to fill in for West while hes been out with foul trouble, or from rolling his ankle, and the team hasn’t fallen completely apart. Yes, he has had some bad fouls, and you’d expect that from a young kid , in his 3rd season, learning a new system. Bottom line, Smith played against SA, and Peja got a DNPCD, even with West getting banged up.

    Final Point on this, Jason Smith’s 2010-11 salary: $2.2M. Peja’s: $14.25M

  12. nikkoewan

    November 1, 2010 at 9:53 am

    i think i’d put bayless lower, emeka higher, and jason smith higher…

    bayless needs to get acclimated FAST, we need him and Thornton to carry that 2nd unit.

  13. Dontae Edwards

    November 1, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I really don’t think Aaron Gray is getting the mins he deserves. The guy is 7 FT! He’ll get rebounds easy and he’s better than a lot of people give him credit for. But we’re undefeated without him so if it’s not broke don’t fix it eh? He can really rebound and play D in the post though.

    • Michael McNamara

      November 1, 2010 at 10:43 am

      Against bigger centers, this is true- but the first 3 games have been against more agile big men like Duncan, Bogut, and Nene. Gray will do well against the Dwight Howards and Yao Mings of the world by using his size, but any center that can pull him out of the paint will be a horrible matchup for Gray.

      By the end of the year I think Gray will contribute in a handful of games, but on most nights the Hornets will stick with Meka or Mbenga at the 5.

      • 42

        November 1, 2010 at 11:50 am

        Given that we play Houston Wednesday and that Yao is playing limited minutes, do you think he’ll get the activation? At the expense of whom? I’m more asking to get at the thought process than as a `test’. You think about this stuff from angles that I don’t normally consider so it’s truly educational.

  14. Michael McNamara

    November 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I doubt with a 3-0 start Monty will sit a contributor for a guy who is cold. If he did activate him, however, it would probably be at the expense of Mbenga who has been solid but is rebounding horribly. That being said, I think the same 12 guys suit up and I think Peja and Bayless could have decent games due to Houston’s perimeter lapses in transition.

    My biggest concern is who guards Scola? Guy has been a beast in the Summer Championships and to start the season. Huge challenge for D West. And if Smith gets minutes against Scola I will be terrified. I would actually prefer to see Pops on him.

    • QueenBee

      November 1, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      You do realize that West usually abuses Scola right? Not saying it’s a guarantee for Wednesday night but you’re saying Scola is a challenge for West but don’t forget West has been a challenge for Scola as well.

    • Stefan

      November 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      Agreed. I really think Pops is the only guy that has the potential to give Scola problems. However, I also think Scola will be able to use his high IQ to bait Pops into silly fouls and defensive lapses.

      Just because I haven’t noted it earlier, D West is going hard on defense this year! I’m loving it!

    • Mikey

      November 1, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      I think Coach Williams will keep the rotation as is for right now, but I do expect all the inactives to get some floor time before the end of the month. As with any young team, those guys will have their opportunity. My guess is the earliest they may get some PT in MIL this coming Saturday. SEGBABA after the Heat game. I’d look for Pondexter, Gray and Alexander to allow Mbenga, Pops and Smith to show their fashion prowess for a couple games.

  15. QueenBee

    November 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Also, at the moment, Houston is dead last in the league in giving up 117 points. Their fans say they’re the worst defensive team in the league right now. Hopefully it continues on Wednesday. 🙂

    • rm

      November 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      I hope Pops gets the chance to pay them back for the way they treated him last year. I know it was business but it would be a good time to show them what they gave up.

  16. benmez

    November 1, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    no offense, but seriously the Jason Smith hate has to stop from you hornets247 guys. It makes it seem like you don’t actually watch the game, but just analyze everything through box scores. Every hornets fan ive talked too, or every post ive read here or on hornetsreport has said nothing but good things about JSmith.

    I know the guy is a 8th/9th man type but I just don’t think its fair for him to get unjustly criticized.

  17. nolasportsblog.com

    November 1, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I put it

    Ariza- his ability to defend premier players helps us win when he plays, plus
    his defensive intensity and hustle on the court has been contagious,
    West- West’s defense has stepped up. Contract year? No, he no longer
    is subjected to opponents penetrating our defense and then dealing
    with the frustrating delima of defending the rim via very possible foul;
    or watching to ensure he’s on the court to score what we need of him.
    Green and Thorton- both make our back-court dangerously versatile.
    Thorton’s quick release and confidence has him scoring the points
    we otherwise couldn’t. Green’s efficiency suggests he could contribute
    similarly if need be. Has impressive handles for a combo-guard (he can
    run the half-court well), and has clearly taken a professional approach to
    conditioning. His athleticism was evident on that one-handed baseline dunk.
    His statistics with the 76’ers couldn’t convey his mixture of a high B-ball IQ
    and outstanding conditioning.
    Okafor- simply put, he’s there with all of his limitations every night.
    Belinelli-Streaky bomber worth investing the start to check and see if he’s on,
    cause when he is- the shots are deep AND he brings handles and passing
    ability too
    Smith- players are hustling cause they believe in the system. The fact that
    he’s contributing in the rotation, tall, young, and coordinated gives the
    squad hope. It’s easier to get a guy to foul less, than to play tough.
    Mbenga and Pops- Mbenga is showing that he will be THAT guy when we play
    certain giants. POPS brings boards, but I expect a greater impact soon.
    Bayless- when he rises, it’ll be a good sign

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