Hornets Power Rankings- Week Three

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Published: November 14, 2010

Only two games this week, but in those two games the Hornets point differential was larger than the previous six wins combined for the undefeated Hornets. The beat downs were so thorough that All Stars Chris Paul and David West only had to play 61 minutes and 57 minutes, respectively. In fact, the bench was so impressive against LA that CP3 didn’t even have to get out of his seat in the 4th quarter.

Everybody is chipping in. Well, everybody except Aaron Gray and Joe Alexander (who was cut this week). Quincy Pondexter seems to have earned a spot on the active roster and it appears that it will either be Peja or Marcus Thornton who will have the right to wear a suit and sit next to Mr. Gray. As for the rest of the Hornets, here is how they stack up as of today:

1. Chris Paul- 17.0 PPG, 10.3 APG, 2.75 SPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.8:1 AST/TO, 29.4 PER

It will be hard to knock CP3 off of his perch, and frankly, it will be difficult to deny CP3 the league MVP if the Hornets keep winning like this. His base statistics aren’t as gaudy as in years past, but his advanced statistics and his clutch time statistics are remarkable. Defensively he still has problems with bigger guards at times, but he has been a master of thievery yet again this year as he finds ways to hide in a crowd and then pick big men clean in the post.

What Hornets fans should be really excited about is the fact that Paul is only playing 34 minutes per game. If Monty can keep him at that number and the Hornets keep winning, CP3 should be fresh for the playoffs, and that is bad news for the rest of the league.

2. Emeka Okafor- 12.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 69%FG, 21 PER, 2nd on team in Win Share

Okafor has moved up every week so far, and although this is likely as high as he will get, fans have reason to be excited about Okafor moving forward. Despite playing less than 30 minutes per game so far this season, Okafor is having his best season as a pro so far. Unlike last season, Okafor is changing opponents shots on a regular basis and is rebounding well in traffic. Ideally, Okafor would finish stronger on the offensive end, but let’s not get greedy. If Okafor can play like this for the rest of the season, the Hornets could make a deep, deep run.

3. David West- 16.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 52%FG, 1st on team in Points per 40, 20.8 PER

There has been a somewhat disturbing pattern developing with West this season. He picks up two fouls in the first quarter  and is forced to the bench for the next 10-12 minutes. In this respect, the added defensive intensity that we have all been applauding D West for has come at a cost. Remarkably, West usually only finishes the game with 3 or 4 fouls, but those two quickies are the reason he is only managing 30 minutes per game.

When he is on the court, he is extremely efficient for a jump shooting big man and he has provided leadership in the second unit at times this season. Several times this year the opposition has gone on a small run while the starters are off the floor and in response Monty puts in West to settle them down. As is the case with CP3, limiting David West’s minutes will be huge come playoff time.

4. Willie Green- 8.4 PPG, 2nd lowest turnover percentage on the team, leading bench scorer

Green obviously isn’t a starter, but he has been the most important and consistent wing player on the team so far this season. Each and every night he brings quality defense, covering multiple positions throughout the game. Offensively he does take bad shots at times, sometimes forcing jumpers out of his range, but he has a knack for scoring points when they are most needed.

His 4th quarter flurry against the Clippers allowed CP3 to take the 4th quarter off and a couple of key shots against Portland stopped the Blazers momentum. This week Green averaged 15 PPG, but weeks like that will be the exception more than the rule. It is defense why the “Fire Extinguisher” is ranked this high and why Marcus Thornton can’t find minutes on this team.

5. Marco Belinelli- 11.9 PPG, 47% FG, 44% 3PT, 58% Adjusted Field Goal %

Back in Week One, I wrote that if Belinelli can find his deep stroke, he would move up this list. Over the past five games, Marco is 13 for 26 from deep and his defense has been equally impressive. Rumors started to swirl this week that the Hornets were in the market for an upgrade at the shooting guard position, but between Belinelli and Willie Green the Hornets are getting 20PPG and very solid defense. This week alone, the two combined to average 29.5 PPG, and unlike some of the names discussed, they are not scheduled to earn nearly 50 million over the next 3-4 years.

6. Trevor Ariza- 10.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.75 SPG, 67FG% in crunch time

Offensively, Ariza just doesn’t seem to be completely comfortable in the system yet, which is understandable. Because the Hornets have gotten off to such an impressive start, the magnifying glass has not been out as much as it has been in the past. The general attitude is that “it is not broke”, but let’s not confuse that with “everything is running perfect.”

Ariza has been making big shots late in games, but there are times he just seems lost and/or disinterested. Defensively he has been a major upgrade and his athleticism has been a welcome addition, both in transition and in the half court offense, but I don’t think anybody wants to see another wing isolation play drawn up for Ariza. An up and down season, but much like Okafor I have a feeling that once he gets settled into the system, the results will be more steady.

7. Jason Smith- 8.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 48% FG, 92%FT

J Smitty and the Fire Extinguisher were outright stolen from the 76ers. So far this season, Craig Brackins and Darius Songalia have combined to play 10 minutes and have scored zero points for Flip, Flip, Flipadelphia. Meanwhile Smitty and FE have been the two best players off the bench for the last remaining unbeaten team in the NBA. With D West’s foul troubles, who knows where this team would be without J Smitty.

8. Peja Stojakovic- 7 PPG, 2nd on team in Points per 40, 2nd on team in 3-pointers made per game

The guy has only played 3 games, yet he is ranked 8th on the team? I know, but really, what should I do? Should I put a guy who had a negative PER ahead of him? Should I tell you I did that before? What should I do? Should I play the role of the villain and put him behind a guy with alien ears? What should I do? Should I tell you- I AM NOT A SPORTSWRITER? Hi, Joe. What should I do?

9. Jerryd Bayless- 4.5 PPG, 3rd on team in fouls drawn per minute

34 points all season, 23 in the last 2 games. One third of his points for the season came in a five minute stretch against the Clippers. Is he finding his way or is he getting garbage points against garbage teams? I would like to say a little bit of both. The fact is that the guy is a scorer, not a distributor. When he puts his head down and takes it to the hole, he adds a dimension that the Hornets don’t otherwise have. His ability to draw fouls helps in numerous ways. If he can come out at the beginning of the 2nd and 4th quarters and get the Hornets into the bonus, that would be huge when you consider how good CP3 and West are from the line.

10. Marcus Thornton- 7.3 PPG, 4th on team in Points per 40

He stays in the top 10 due to his performances against San Antonio and Denver, but if he keeps getting DNP’s and put on the IR, he will be off this list and perhaps off this team.

11. DJ Mbenga- 1 BPG

His defensive presence in some games this season warrant him being listed above Q-Pon and Pops.

12 (tie) Quincy Pondexter and Pops Mensah-Bonsu

Based on recent patterns, I would expect to see Pondexter to move up this list while Pops appears to be on his way down- much to the dismay of “rm”. Keep your head up buddy, I am sure Pops will win us a game or two before it is all over.

14. Aaron Gray

You think Demps wishes Gray would have “failed his physical” as well?

20 comments
Craig D
Craig D

Aaron Gray -- I am in Chicago, and had been an Aaron Gray fan. He was drafted by the Bulls, and the Bulls have a horrible record with centers. He had this one great game, which I saw, where Aaron Gray came in, and dominated the game. He passed, and he shot well. He had great hands and great passing touch. It was amazing. I became a Gray fan. I did not understand why he didn't play more. I was disappointed when he was traded to NO. HOWEVER, after he was traded, his poor practice and training habits were reported. THAT explained why he didn't play much. It seems it probably explains why he isn't doing well in NO. He definitely has the talent. But, talent is nothing if it is not used. Too bad, what a waste. Like Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront -- he could have been somebody, he could have been a contender.

hewhorocks
hewhorocks

I think that DJ gets no love not only because he's not and offensive weapon, but because he hasnt been a good rebounder (the 4th worst rebound rate among centers) turned the ball over (worst TO ratio among centers) and has on occasion has been beaten down the floor for layups (by other back up centers.) He's big though, cant teach big.

thechosenuno
thechosenuno

No, you can't teach big. We need someone coming off the bench to do what AG did to Dwight Howard last year when we played the Magic -- he stood in the lane and put his hands straight up. It completely threw Howard off his game. Would be great if coach put DJ in one game and AG in the other to throw Dallas off...

thechosenuno
thechosenuno

DJ gets no love because he's not an offensive weapon. I like that coach is thinking about who's going to be the best matchup and help the team win, and not just throwing the same rotation in each game. With Dirk and TC, we're going to need all of the height and size we can get in the lane. Might we see AG and DJ get some minutes. With this home and home, I suspect yes, and I suspect that in next week's power rankings they'll move up some.

otherMark
otherMark

This isn't a nitpick, as this is a cool feature, but it might be worth including each player's minutes on the statline, since for the top dogs, the limiting of their minutes is a major story, and for the mid- and lower-level dogs, time on the court can be indicative of their value to the team. You're right, though, I could also click over to their full statsheets and stop being so lazy. Touche. Jeez, I was just asking.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I love stats at times, but Ryan is the stats guy among us. Right or wrong, I am an "eyeball test" guy. Basketball has been my life for almost 30 years and I just have come to trust what I see more than I trust the stat line. I don't mind that people disagree with me, and I don't claim that this is "The List". By my criteria, this is how I rank the guys, but a lot of you guys have your own lists with there own merits. Please feel free to present your own lists based on your own measurements. The more conversation the better!

otherMark
otherMark

I'm down with all that. I just thought that having minutes per game, along with the other stats you present for each player, would be handy for us readers as we weigh the merits of your list. You refer to minutes in your discussion of DW, EO and CP, and it might also help in weighing the contributions of the bench players (a totally made up example: comparing Pops' 1 flawless minute per game against DJ Mbenga's solid but flawed 4 minutes per game).

504ever
504ever

Below is my list, based on average minutes played (assuming each Hornet played in all Hornet games to average in DNPs as a zero) plus PER. It is very similar to McNamara's. (I expect everyone's lists are starting to look similar.) The only difference is I don't split hairs on players whose value to the team is similar (and I don't overvalue Green like McNamara does). There is a huge log jam after 7, which I expect will be resolved in a week or two. 1. CP3 (63, leads team in minutes and PER. Wow!!!) 2. West (51) 2. Okafor (50.5) 4. Ariza (44, and 2nd highest minutes on the team. That says something!) 4. Bellinelii (42) 6. Smith (35) 6. Green (32) 8. Thornton 27 (has to improve defense enough to play!) 8. Peja (25, effecient when he plays) 8. Bayless (20, on the rise; Peja and Marcus watch out!) 11. QP (15, also on the rise; not a threat to the three above him, but could be) 12. Unnamed physical big, to be aquired later 13. Pops (6.5) 14. DJ (6, negative PER!)

42
42

Solid list. "Remarkably, West usually only finishes the game with 3 or 4 fouls, but those two quickies are the reason he is only managing 30 minutes per game." I don't think this is sound. I think his minutes would be limited, but he would get them in more traditional-for-starters times in the game, even if he didn't get the fouls., I think he'd basically be on the Chris Paul plan. This, of course, is just reasoned speculation, so throw the stone back.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

They would only go up to 33 or 34, but that would still be up. I dont think Monty would ever make him play 38 again, but I think he would average 3-4 mins more per game if not for the foul trouble. I think on average Monty would like CP3, West, and Ariza to be around 34 and Okafor to be around 31- with everyone else's minutes dictated by matchups and how they are playing that game. I am curious to see the rotation when the Hornets get to the playoffs and there are no back-to-backs. Does he go to a 7 or 8 man rotation wit CP3 getting 40+ or will he continue to trust the bench this much? My guess: CP3 gets 40, West 37, Ariza 37, Okafor 33 But I guess I am assuming this will be our team come playoff time, which might be a mistake.

42
42

I think we agree. And I'm curious about the same matters. It's fun to be thinking about such things . . .

JCS
JCS

14. Aaron Gray You think Demps wishes Gray would have “failed his physical” as well? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No comment

rm
rm

I would love to disagree with this but can't. I think the list is fair. I do hope/expect/pray that Pops moves up above Mbenga when he gets his shot. I do hope that he is improving as a player, playing in such a good team. if so the GB team will benefit from this in the Euros next year and could give someone a few surprises. Gordon, Pops and Deng plus Azubuike if we can find him a passport. Not bad.

Adzs-London bee
Adzs-London bee

I don't think azubuike can play for us the act under which he was rejected in the 1st place is still in place....still with BG and Luol having great years thus far team Gb looking really good for the summer and the olympics hopefully ;P on a sidenote Geux Hornets ;P

Bug Marley
Bug Marley

Nice shoutout to rm! Your support for Pops is really infectious, well, at least for me. I really hope Pops can find a niche in the Hornets' lineup. War Pops!

Schmide234
Schmide234

change of tone here. GOOD LIST!!

Dave
Dave

Peja is way too high. 3 for 7 from deep in the Portland game does not overshadow the fact that he is the most one-dimensional player on the team. No defense at all. While Bayless clearly hasn't familiarized himself with his role on the team, he had a solid week and, without a doubt, should be ahead of Peja. However, if the trade rumors are true, and the Hornets are able to get some talent for Peja, then #8 could be appropriate, but not for his play on the court. It would be appropriate for his trade value only. Just my .02. 8-0 baby!

benmez
benmez

1)Paul 2)Okafor 3)West 4)Ariza 5)Green 6)Bellinelli 7)Smith 8)Bayless 9)Stojakovic 10)Thornton 11)Mbenga 12)Pondexter 13)Pops 14)Gray Thats my list.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

ariza should be wayyyy higher like around 4... can you imagine where we would be without him. I dont want to and i guarentee we arent the same defensive team at all if he wasnt here he was a great pick up and is easily #4 and id maybe even go above west

benmez
benmez

Ariza should be 4th on this list. He is a game changer on defense. His length and knack for the ball really create havock for the opposition. He was responsible for both of Portlands opening TO's yesterday. Once he finds his stroke this team will be very hard to beat.