The second edition of the 2011-12 season’s New Orleans Hornets individual player power rankings.
Welcome back for the latest edition of these power rankings! When we last left off, Michael Beasley made a surprise appearance at the top due to his excellent ability to single-handedly tear down his Timberwolves team, thus working to improve the Hornets’ first round draft pick from them. Unfortunately, Beasley has been out with an “injury” since then, though personally, I just think he read these rankings and assumed he should just shut it down for a little while. As a result, Beasley exits the rankings, leaving us with (go figure) just Hornets players in this week’s rankings. As always, we’d love to hear your opinions on who should be ranked where, so bring on the comments!
1. Jarrett Jack, PG: 37.7 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 42.4 FG%, 7.6 APG, 4.3 RPG, 16.8 PER
When no player truly stands out as a team’s #1 guy, the thing that often makes the difference are intangibles. By knowing his importance to the team and therefore playing through an ankle injury, Jack more than earns the top spot this time around. He trails only Gordon and Landry in PER, and hasn’t committed more than 3 turnovers in a game since the new year. While he had a tough time getting shots to fall early in the week (a forgivable offense playing with a bum ankle), he bounced back last night with 23 points on 14 shots. It still seems like the Hornets lack a true leader on the court in the post-CP3 era, but Jack is doing his best to fill that void.
2. Carl Landry, PF: 27.0 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 46.0 FG%, 5.5 RPG, 17.2 PER
Landry’s first two games of the past week (38 points on 28 shots) make it easier to stomach his poor performances in his most recent two games (7 points on 11 shots). Regardless, he leads the team in PER among players who have played more than 2 games, and his season to date earns him the #2 spot in these rankings. Seeing him pull in some more rebounds would be nice, but with the team struggling to score so mightily in Gordon’s absence, Landry fills a very important role.
3: Emeka Okafor, C: 28.1 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 51.8 FG%, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 15.5 PER
Okafor’s half point jump in PER over the last week is directly correlated to his improved scoring efficiency over the same time period, converting 18 of his 29 shot attempts (62%) in his past 4 games. Apart from that, he’s been standard Mek, although his total of 2 blocks in those 4 games is less than inspiring. Still he’s been consistent and solid enough, keeping him near the top of these rankings for the second straight week.
4. Gustavo Ayon, C: 8.7 MPG, 3.7 PPG, 66.7 FG%, 2.5 RPG, 24.1 PER
I honestly wanted to put Ayon ahead of even Okafor, but I simply can’t justify it with only 8.7 MPG… yet. If he keeps seeing increased minutes and filling up the stat sheet like he did last night in Memphis (9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in 20 minutes of action), he’ll get there fairly easily. Because of those limited minutes, his stat line doesn’t impress upon first glance, but on a production per minute basis, he really looks like one of the team’s better players (as evidenced by his absurd PER of 24.1). Every game, it seem like Ayon plays miles better than the one before it. He is quickly adapting to the NBA style, and has helped to give the Hornets what is easily one of the deepest front courts in the league. If you see another Hornets big man traded earlier than you would have otherwise expected, Ayon is the reason why.
5: Jason Smith, PF: 16.4 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 45.1 FG%, 3.9 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 16.8 PER
Smith missed the first two games of the week due to a death in the family, but returned for the latter two, posting the first double-double of his career last night in Memphis. Smith continues to show that his hard work over the offseason paid off through limiting turnovers and improved defense. The two areas where it would really be nice to see him improve are rebounding and his inability to get to the free throw line (averaging just 1.3 attempts per game on 9 shots).
6. Chris Kaman, C: 24.4 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 46.7 FG%, 7.4 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 15.1 PER
Speaking of players who struggle to get to the free throw line – enter Chris Kaman, averaging just 1.6 free throw attempts on 10.2 shots each game. His first two games of the week were decent, registering a total of 37 points on 32 shots, though shooting only 2 free throws on those 32 shots hurts his efficiency. He hit rock bottom at home on Friday night against Minnesota, missing all 10 of his shots, though he did grab 9 boards. When it comes down to it, Kaman has been wildly inconsistent, looking like a solid NBA starter in some games while struggling mightily in others.
7: Greivis Vasquez, PG: 19.1 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 35.1 FG%, 3.3 APG, 13.3 PER
Greivis certainly brings energy, but efficiency sometimes doesn’t come with it. He had a pretty quiet, uninspiring week until last night, breaking out for 14 points on 10 shots to go along with 6 assists and 3 rebounds. The usual assumption when a guard has a shooting percentage as low as Vasquez’s would be that he’s coming up empty from 3-point range, but he has actually made a third of his threes so far. Therefore, Greivis is converting a shockingly low percentage of his 2-point attempts; 36% to be exact, the lowest percentage among all Hornets players whose names aren’t Squeaky. It is highly unlikely that he continues to be this unlucky on 2-point shots, so his shooting numbers should hopefully start to trend upward soon.
8. DaJuan Summers, F: 23.3 MPG, 6.5 PPG 44.0 FG%, 2.0 RPG, 7.4 PER
Summers makes an impressive jump off of the inactive list and into the Hornets’ wing rotation, leading to a similar jump in these rankings, moving from unranked to 8th. After making 11 of his 20 shots in his first 3 games, he came back down to Earth last night, missing all five of his attempts from the field. Despite the decent scoring ability that he has shown, Summers has struggled to help the Hornets in any other aspect of the game. If that trend continues, he’ll drop in these rankings fairly quickly.
9. Eric Gordon, SG: 39.0 MPG, 21.0 PPG, 42.5 FG%, 5.0 RPG, 18.1 PER
Purely as a result of injury, Gordon will continue to fall in these rankings until he returns to action. When that happens, however, he should shoot up to the top pretty quickly.
10. Trevor Ariza, SF: 31.4 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 41.7 FG%, 5.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 13.3 PER
The same goes for Ariza as for Gordon… you know, apart from the whole “shoot up to the top pretty quickly once healthy” part.
11: Trey Johnson, G: 6.1 MPG, 2.1 PPG, 53.8 FG%, 14.3 PER
He doesn’t play much and his minutes aren’t likely to noticeably increase, but Trey is holding his own pretty decently when he plays. He does a good job of taking care of the ball, and though it would be unsustainable given more minutes, a 53.8% shooting percentage for a guard is always impressive.
12: Marco Belinelli, SG: 31.4 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 39.5 FG%, 35.8 3P%, 4.4 RPG, 9.6 PER
Belinelli had far and away his best two games of the season within the past week, scoring a season high 19 points on 13 shots in Denver on Monday night, and then surpassing that total against Minnesota on Friday night with 20 points on 14 shots. He made 8 of his 19 3-point attempts (42%) over the past 4 games, once again confirming what we already knew about Beli being an incredibly streaky shooter. Another week like this past one, and Beli should quickly climb out of the bottom of these rankings.
13. Squeaky Johnson, PG: 7.3 MPG, 1.9 PPG, 33.3 FG%, 0.8 APG, 5.5 PER
Squeaky is always fun to watch, but unfortunately, he just isn’t that good. His assist to turnover rate of 1.4 is terrible for a point guard, and his field goal percentage isn’t any more comforting.
14. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF: 20.5 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 32.7 FG%, 5.3 RPG, 9.6 PER
One thing is clear about Aminu thus far – the coaching staff simply doesn’t trust him. He has shown some promise from a rebounding perspective, but frequently just seems too unsure of himself whenever he’s on the court. Until he can prove to the Hornets’ coaches that he deserves to be out there, he will likely continue to see his minutes suffer.
Incomplete: Xavier Henry, SG
Still injured, but hopefully Henry makes his way back onto the active roster within this upcoming week; the Hornets’ wing rotation could certainly use the help.
Player Power Rankings is a weekly piece that you can find every Sunday only on Hornets247.com. For past rankings, click here.