Hornets Power Rankings- Week Two

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Published: November 7, 2010

He has Risen.

After being cast aside by this writer (some say unjustly), Jason Smith had perhaps the two best games of his young career to make all of us Believers. He answered our prayers with 18-foot jumpers that barely even touched the net. He miraculously snatched down rebounds and parted the Miami Heat defense for a thunderous dunk. The Hornets have searched for a quality backup big man since the days of Matt Geiger, and the mighty Dell Demps has provided us with one in the form of the immortal Jason Smith.

Perhaps I am overacting this week because I might have overreacted last week when I placed Jason Smith 12th on the power rankings list after the first three games. I am big enough to admit my errors, although I want to make it clear that this list is not a reflection of whom the best player is or who would do the best if they were given a role different than the one they have, etc. It is an objective power ranking of the value each player has had on this year’s team, with no factoring in of past years, or future projections.

Personally I believe that by the end of the year guys like Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter will have a bigger impact than DJ Mbenga- but have they had that impact yet? No, and that is why they rank lower in the week two power poll. Two great games and an above average game this week has redeemed Jason Smith for what I think was an atrocious week one, but another bad week and he can be buried at the bottom of the list again.  This list is sacred, and I will be quick to point out any and all false prophets. With that, your week two power rankings:

1. Chris Paul 18.7 PPG, 10.2 APG, 6 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 51% FG, 5:1 AST/TO ratio, leads team in +/-, top 3 in NBA in PER and Win Share

We don’t even have to have the “Who is the top point guard in the NBA?” argument anymore. At this point it is just silly, almost equivalent to having a debate about which Saints team is the best in team history. As was the case in 07-08, the conversation regarding CP3 will begin to center around “Is he the MVP of the league this year?” His numbers won’t be as remarkable as they were in 07-08, or 08-09 for that matter, but his impact on this team might be even greater. He simply will not let this team lose and his communication on defense gives the Hornets the coach on the floor that they need with a new system.

2. David West 18.3 PPG, 55% FG,  6.5 RPG, 80% FT, Leads team in Points and FGM per 40 minutes

Two weeks ago, my fiancée and I entertained guests at the house. She spent all day making a four-course meal, with little to no help from me. When the guests arrived, she was engaging and thoroughly entertaining as she told fabulous stories, while simultaneously getting people drinks and keeping an eye on our two dogs. In a word, she was incredible. Six months before that, a friend and I had spent the entire day building a patio deck in one hundred degree heat while she stayed inside watching Lifetime. After four hours, my friend poked his head inside and asked for a glass of water. Her reply? “Get it your damn self!”  Ladies and Gentlemen- my fiancée as David West.

I love how he is playing right now, just as I loved how my fiancée handled the party we threw, but part of me despises the fact that now I know what West is capable of and I wonder how he could sandbag it for nearly two years on the defensive end. When the old lady was a rude host all those months back, I just wrote her off as somebody who was incapable of doing that sort of thing, but now I see her true potential. Being a fan of David West is bittersweet in this way as well, because now I see that he could have been doing this all along as well, but he just didn’t want to get off the couch to get my friend that glass of water.

3. Emeka Okafor 22.9 PER (5th among centers), 12.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 72% FG, 2.2 BPG

C’mon, you have to admit that as a Hornet fan you felt a little guilty on Friday night as Emeka Okafor had the game of his life against the Miami Heat. Imagine the roles were reversed and New Orleans got beat due to Carlos Arroyo having the game of his life. That would have hurt. Anybody remember Deshawn Stevenson beating us as a Wizard? Those losses are tough when you are on the other side.

Okafor has come a long way since opening night against Milwaukee and it looks like he is starting to fit in on this team. He still doesn’t warrant his salary, and with it increasing every year, he probably never will, but knowing that you will have a steady force in the middle every night is valuable and nights like the one he had on Friday is just icing on a very expensive cake.

4. Trevor Ariza 10 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2 SPG, 1 Huge Game Clinching 3 pointer

At the end of the year some people will be tempted to compare Ariza’s stats to those of Darren Collison’s for whatever reason. Practically, however, that will not be an effective way of proving whether the trade the Hornets made was a good one or not. Was Ariza’s shot against the Heat just worth three points in the same way that any other shot from deep counts as three in the NBA? How do you truly measure the value he has on the defensive end or his versatility on the offensive side of the ball?

Collison’s numbers will likely outshine Ariza’s in every category, with the exception of rebounds and perhaps steals, but there is no question that the Hornets have fewer W’s if this trade was not made.

5. Willie Green 2nd on team in +/-, 6.2 PPG, 2 RPG

Green is to the Hornets as Darren Sharper was to the 2009 Saints. Neither guy has outstanding raw attributes, nor are they valued greatly by league personnel, but both found a perfect landing spot for their specific set of skills. Green has been trusted enough by Monty to finish off several games already this season, and has been inserted during parts of the game when Monty senses an opposing wing is starting to get hot. Because of that, I am going to start calling Willie Green “Fire Extinguisher” because he cools players down when they start to catch on fire.

6. Marco Belinelli 11 PPG, 42% 3pt, 2.5 RPG, 1.7 APG

The most surprising subplot of the week was that Belinelli stepped up on the defensive end against some high scoring two guards. Kevin Martin had his way at times, but Dwayne Wade, John Salmons, and even Corey Maggette on a few occasions had problems getting around Belinelli. He was light on his feet and forced the guy he was guarding to areas on the court where he had help. If Belinelli can start to hit his outside shots with regularity, the Hornets starting unit will be one of the top units in the league.

7. Jason Smith 8.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 48%FG, 92% FT, highest scoring bench player on team

(In Casey Kasem’s voice): “I have a letter here from Michael McNamara who writes,

Dear Casey,

Last week I said some horrible things about a man named Jason Smith. He angered me with his horrible defensive rotations and poor shot selection, but this week I have seen a different side of him and I want to apologize. Can you please play something that will tell him how I feel?

I sure can Michael. To celebrate Jason Smith moving all the way up to Number 7 this week, here’s Evanescence with their song “Forgive Me”.

8. Marcus Thornton 7.3 PPG, 50% 3 pt, 3rd on team points per 40 minutes

To make room at the top, invariably something must fall towards the bottom. Thornton’s play wasn’t particularly bad this past week; he just simply did not get the minutes or opportunities that he was given during the first week of the season. In the three wins this week, Thornton only played 29 minutes, and only scored 9 points. His best game was against Miami, where he gave the Hornets a spark in the second quarter while the starters were out, but because of Marco and W. Green, he didn’t get back onto the floor for long because the Hornets needed defense on the court to combat the Heat’s 4th quarter run. Will Thornton’s 2010-11 season look more like week one or week two? I don’t think even Monty knows the answer to that question.

9. Dj Mbenga 1.2 BPG, 9 MPG

Has anybody seen an uglier shot than the one Mbenga hoisted at the end of the third quarter in the Heat game? Not just in the NBA, but ever- in any league? I can’t say I have, and I am hoping I do not see him take another shot outside of 2 feet all season. He has six fouls to give, a big body, some shot blocking skills, and unique ears. That’s it and that’s all.

10. (tie) Pops, Bayless, Peja, and Q-Pon

Has anybody from this group distinguished themselves over another- enough to be ranked higher? If I took anybody out of this group and just replaced them with a random player at their same position, would the Hornets record be any different? Again, I have high hopes for Q-Pon and Bayless this year and I pray that Peja can bring us another piece or two at some point this year, but as of today none of these players have been responsible in any way for the 6-0 start.

LEAST VALUABLE: Joe Crawford, Tony Brown, Olandis Poole

I knew that when Miami came up to New Orleans that the Hornets would have to watch out for the Big Three. It wasn’t Bosh, Wade, and LeBron that had me worried in the 4th quarter, however; it was these three that were most responsible for the Hornets almost losing the first game of the season. The horrible charge call on CP3, the ridiculous blocking fouls anytime Wade even moved toward the hoop, and the most ridiculous call of the night- the technical on CP3 when he shouted one word after the previously mentioned charge. Watch that game again and focus on Wade’s reaction after every call. The camera catches him jawing at the officials after every call.

Just a couple examples of how CP3 doesn’t get the star treatment others do. I mean, if that is Wade or James driving to the hoop and Jason Smith steps in, is there ANY chance the refs call that a charge- AT HOME NO LESS!!!! I just don’t get it and I am so happy for the guys that these three jokers didn’t cost them a franchise record 5-0 start Friday night.

36 comments
sk
sk

Happy that the team has made a 6-0 but sometimes this is expected when a new coach starts in a team since all players are trying to do their best. My concern is that we were building a team for the future with Collison and MT and now this we are demolishing our previous efforts.. DC proved that you can find point guards in the market that can give 70-80% of what CP gives us and after 1 year we sent him away.. Now Dells is trying to get rid of MT for an untested Bayless and banged of Green.. It does not make sense. MT has been tested and has done well, so what the point of getting rid him? I am really frustrated because i can see Dells is walking the CP3 selection route and trying to keep him "happy" but there is a danger he leaves next year and we have sold out all our talents..

hewhorocks
hewhorocks

I think Peja isnt getting time for the same reason Gray isnt getting time. Defensive rotations. Mbenga has been (pause) terrible this year. His Per is the second worst of all centers in the league. Let that soak in for a bit. Only one player that qualifies as a 5 has been a worse contributor to their team according to statistical analysis. Love his hustle, attitude and personality all you want those are the stats. The reason Mbenga continues to get playing time over Gray is not for how he plays but where he plays. I think the coaching staff would rather have a less effective player doing the correct defensive rotations than a much more effective one that has yet absorbed the system (Gray?) or is unable to implement it (Peja?) (I have Okafor and West at 2A and 2B)

Redhopeful
Redhopeful

I like this as well as they have really complemented each other fantastically on the court so far this season.

sk
sk

you cannot really judge Peja.. Dells is making a big mistake here. I cant understand why there is no time of 8-10min for a player like him. He has also accepted he has made a mistake in explaining his intentions to him in the beginning of the year. The main concern is that if Bellinelli is injured we are in bad condition with none else being a three-point threat..

rm
rm

I am in total outrage at this statement "none of these players have been responsible in any way for the 6-0 start". This is absolutely ridiculous. Even q-pon who has played the least of all these four has played his part. Even if it is giving Ariza a few more minutes breather against MIL. This is a team game that needs a full rotation. Monty knows this and this is why he is playing at least a 10 and 11 man rotation. True these are not the stars but the are playing with the same ethic and are part of the Hornets success. In addition on a personal level I believe Pops has been more effective than Mbenga. I am disappointed that Pops has not had a better shout. I have watched all the games and he isn't making the impact that I know he can. I still think however that a Smith at 5 and Pops at 4 is better than Smith at 4 and Mbenga at 5. Pops' rebounding efficiency is still good (Top 20) in all NBA currently but I wish he could make himself more effective at the offensive end, like I know he can. Once again I think that the statement by McNamara is a rather narrow minded statement. Playing with a 9 man rotation with those nine would not have still resulted in a 6-0 start. It may be 4-2, 5-1 but all of those guys have played a part even if it is just about give CP3, West or however a few more minutes on the bench.

rm
rm

I have noticed that in my anger I have managed to mistype most of my mail making much of it nonsensical. However I hope the message has come through that the 6-0 start has been a team effort and anyone who has stepped foot on the court has played their part. “none of these players have been responsible in any way for the 6-0 start” statement is insulting to everyone who has putt in the effort to play the Monty way.

rm
rm

OK I did get it out of context and I take your point. However, these guys are part of this team and I believe do have some responsibility in the 6-0 no matter how little and no matter who else could have delivered.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I read the message load and clear, and we love passion over here at Hornets247.com- and it is clear you have plenty of that. I just want to point out however, the complete context of that paragraph. I do say, " If I took anybody out of this group and just replaced them with a random player at their same position, would the Hornets record be any different? " So it is not that the players have done NOTHING- I am asking: If Bayless was replaced by Earl Watson or Pondexter with Damion James, Pops with Omar Asik, etc, etc- would the record be any different? See the difference? If CP3 was replaced by a random starting PG in the league, we would be 3-3 at best, but likely 1-5 or worse IMO. If Pondexter or Bayless or Pops were replaced by a random 9th or 10th man, I fell confident we are still 6-0. You are still free to disagree (I love different opinions!) - I just wanted to make sure you had my statement in its full context.

scedotal
scedotal

I think you have Bayless way overrated.

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Michael, I am just shaking my head for you. I hope your fiancee doesn't know how to read. Dude you are going to be in the doghouse for YEARS over that little David West analogy. Rookie mistake... Never, NEVER EVER point out to others the non-perfection of the woman who has chosen you over all others for the rest of their lives. LMBO at your future pain (just because it isn't me this time)

CharmedHive
CharmedHive

In my opinion, I think that Emeka is worth all that he's getting payed. He's playing at an all-star level and bigs that play that well are hard to come by. I think that without his stellar play, we wouldn't be 6-0 at this point, and wins are PRICELESS. Also, the refs made me absolutely furious. Their boneheaded calls were obviously biased and just wrong. Like everyone already said, Wade was in the refs' ears the whole entire time and suddenly one of the top point guards can't even make a good play to help his team to a win? Yeah. Definitely. I think they were trying to make as many calls for the Heat that they could without completely going over the line. Tryna give them tricks the win, eh? Anyways, even though the Heat got the calls, we got the good plays and the win. That's all that matters in this league.

tyler
tyler

Do yall think we can be a champion team

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

yes, but we need a Pau Gasol type of trade.

42
42

Given that the CBA is coming up, do you see such a deal as more likely from the `Pau'-giver than in prior seasons? Of course, the same economic reasons affect the `Pau'-receiver and the unlikely trade remains just about as unlikely as before, but it's a fun thought experiment. Also, given the way we played Bosh, Kim, and Paris, do we really need another near-superstar-or-better (~Carmelo) or do we need a cadre of solid role players (~Terry), or in Hornets terms West-Paul or more Smith-Belinelli-or-better? The talk in the chat was basically, we need a better West, but do we already have one . . . named David West? I'm assuming everyone agrees that it's best to stand pat until 1/1/11 and then reassess.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

With Emeka, I guess it comes down to this question: Are you basing his value on the market or independantly? Because other centers are overpaid, does that mean you have to overpay your center? The way I see it, the Hornets have about 70 million to spend, assuming they dont want to go over the lux tax. Would I spend 17-20 percent of that on Emeka if I could start from scratch? No. But would I rather have him than Oden and Pryzbella this year? Yes. There is no right or wrong answer- especially since we seem to be talking about two different questions.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Yes, because everybody "overpays" centers, you do have to overpay if you want a good one. It's called a free market. Unless a team gets lucky in the lottery and secures a great big man in the rookie system (which is far from a free market), they are stuck competing with the other teams who set the price. By any measure of performance, Emeka is a good deal now and may be a good deal for years to come. Of course, if he gets injured or loses motivation he could be a horrible deal. However, that could happen to any player. Gotta have faith....

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i agree they are two different things. but in both accounts, Emeka is worth his money RIGHT NOW. i'm not sure that its gonna stay, but right now, he is.

42
42

I agree that they are different things. They are both useful exercises. The truth of the matter, from my knothole, is that . . . it doesn't matter a lick. Emeka is here unless we deal him away with Paul. Unless there is something in the new CBA to change things, Emeka is a sunk cost and such discussions are largely fruitless. They are wonderful academic exercises and fun, but impractical. This is not a knock.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

BTW, let's make a new poll! which trade is the best for you? Jason Smith/Willie Green trade? Bayless trade? Ariza trade? Bellinelli trade?

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

O BTW, good post again Michael :D really appreciate it. More blogs to come! school is about to start, so i might not be able to post forum topics or journals, so i'll be relying on Hornets247's on Big 3( Ryan, Joe and Mike) for info. :)

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i really think the whole NBA is giving the Miami Heat the "star treatment". and don't they dare give us that "NO THEY DON'T!" ESPN making a Heat Index? giving grades for EACH of the Big Three, the team and the opponent team? getting preferential calls? I talked about 3 calls in the NO-MIA game that were very egregious: A Dwayne Wade carry and 2 Dwayne Wade no tech. I mean, Dwayne Wade was barking at the referee ALL GAME. He barked at the ref when he got swiped by Cookies at half court(got the foul, no technical) and he barked AGAIN at the referee when he got swiped by Cookies at baseline(no foul, no tech). God I hate Miami. Wade really hates it when he gets his cookies stolen by the COOKIE MONSTER!! HAHA

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

good rankings overall, i think willie green took a step back this week in that he shot a little too much and his shot wasn't falling either. i honestly think so far though that emeka has been the mvp of most of our games this season. with he and dwest's improved communication and commitment on defense we are 100x better than last year. As far as the next couple games go i'd like to see bayless' minutes cut a bit with more playing time going to marcus and quincy (also congratulations to quincy on his first points as a hornet). i'd also like to see peja get some more burn if we have a good lead contingent upon if we are trying to shop him. and like most of the other posters on here i'd like to see gray get some backup C minutes.

42
42

The refs were ridiculous. I really hope they are completely chastised for the charge call. That and Marcus' missed layup were relatively big swings as it got down to go time. Crawford looked between scared an amazed that he called it Hornets ball when Wade was cradling it laying half out of bounds. He hesitated too. It was nearly apologetic. I'm going to puke into the suite below me one day. Sorry in advance. About the players: Good rankings. I'm trying not to let the game last night influence me as much as the other 2. About Emeka: I think a market analysis would say Emeka's salary is justified if not worth it. I'm not sure what we'd have to pay to replace him. I think the problem is with the market, not Emeka.

otherMark
otherMark

A 14ish year old Hornets fan and his younger brother were sitting near me for the heat game, and he asked why my friends and I were booing Joey Crawford during introductions. About 3 minutes into the game he turned to me and said "Now I understand." By the end of the game, he had run out of words to express his frustration (and I'm proud to say that we showed restraint and did not teach him any new ones!).

42
42

I had to chake back a few. I find yelling "Stupid" and "Dummy" along with the occasional "I know where you parked" makes me feel better while not compromising my ability to resist being tossed out.

jtshoopsblog
jtshoopsblog

Hey Marco, i saw your jumpshot. It has been looking for u along with your offense and your overall basketball ability. so glad the Raps got rid of u!!!!

Caleb
Caleb

Comparing Okafor having a great night to Arroyo or Stevenson having career nights? Seriously man? Come on now.

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

I disagree about Oakfor not being worth his salary. As I pointed out last year, he's really not overpaid for a center. With the way he's played this year, the need to refute that criticism never even crossed my mind. Points, rebounds, blocks, etc, I don't care. Your favorite point of view (the eye test), Michael, proves his value to this squad and their dependence on his defense in the middle. Can anyone do what they are doing on the perimeter if he isn't altering shots inside, and coming up high on the pick and rolls? No way. I hate to say it, because D-West is also one of my favorite players, but right now I have Okafor at number 2. Just imagine what happens if he gets hurt.

Mikey
Mikey

Amen Joe. I was gonna bring up the same exact point. Don't just look at the raw salary numbers when saying "he's not worth his salary". You have to look at it in terms of the going market value for that position. We all know the market value is extremely inflated when it comes to bigs in the NBA. They are not cheap. Yao Ming is making $17M this year, while only playing 24 minutes a game. With that said, compared to the fair market value of a starting center, the Hornets are getting a tremendous return on their investment with Okafor right now. I'd put him #2 in the NBA behind Superman right now. 2 weeks in to this season, he's the best center in the West.

Redhopeful
Redhopeful

Am very high on Emeka too but he isn't the best in the West - I'd rather nab one of the Gasol brothers or Duncan first.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i was going to argue that myself joe. RIGHT NOW, okafor is worth his money. Will this keep one? I hope so. Will this be worth it for the increase in salary? I hope so. I mean if he gives me these: raw stats: 12.3 pts on 71.8 FG% and 6.8 attempts 69.2 FT% on 4.3 attempts 8.3 boards 0.7 TO 2.2 blocks in 28 minutes advanced: TS% 72.9 TurnRatio 6.22 TotalRebRate of 17.9 PER of 23.96 APER of 24.12. then so be it. to compare him to 2 other C making 11 million namely: Nene and Bogut Nene raw: 10.3 pts on 54.6% in 7.3 attempts 66.7 FT% in 3 attempts 6.7 boards 1 TO 0.7 blocks in 31 minutes advanced: TS% 59.7 TurnRatio 9.1 TotalRebRate of 12.3 PER of 14.15 APER of 14.31. Bogut raw: 14.8 pts on 51.4 % in 11.7 attempts 58.6 FT% in 4.8 attempts 11.5 boards 1.3 TO 1.8 blocks in 35 minutes advanced: TS% 50.6 TurnRation 7.49 TotalRebRate of 17.8 PER of 17.94 APER of 17.33 i think Okafor is earning his salary, don't ya think? care to pitch in Joe? any other C's making around Okafor salary that Mek is outplaying or playing to a deuce?

StefanC
StefanC

I'm glad I don't have an imagination.

Caleb
Caleb

Agreed. But if you do want to look at the stats... Okafor has played at an all-star level thus far this year - just have to look at the per minute stats.

504ever
504ever

McNamara, Your list this week is much bettter, and I am glad you have some humor about it (especially since I was one of the people on you for your ranking of Smith). To be fair, again this week I am posting my list (which I made before you posted yours) so anyone can take a shot at me. Also, I put each player's Ave. Minutes + PER on the side, since I view it as reasonable approximation of value to the team because it combines how much you play with a reasonable proxy for how well you place. Active Players Ave. Minutes + PER 1. Chris Paul 67 2. David West 48 3. Emeka Okafor 52 4. Tervor Ariza 44 4. Marco Belinelli 39 6. Jason Smith 35 7. Willie Green 31 8. Marcus Thornton 35 9. Pops M-B 16 9. D.J. Mbenga 9 9. Jerryd Bayless* 12 12. Q. Pondexter* 25.6** * I expect Bayless and Poindexter to improve in the next four weeks. ** Based on one game.

tyler
tyler

LOL good post

berlin-hornets
berlin-hornets

The best about Power Rankings is that you usually can argue and ridicule the person responsible for the rankings, because lets be honest, they usually dont know what they are talking about. Man, you take the fun out of it. ;-) I have to agree. In particular the last positions and your explaination are heads on. Marco really stepped up his defense and that is really the only reason for him being above Smith. It is amazing how much we scratched our heads after that trade. So far, all the trades seem like thievery.