New Orleans Hornets 2011-12 Mid-Season Power Rankings

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Published: February 26, 2012
Both Vasquez (shown) and Ariza enter the top 5 for the first time all season.

So we’re at exactly the halfway point of the lockout-shortened 66-game season; what better time than all-star weekend for some updated Hornets power rankings? Let’s take a look at where each Hornets player ranks from top to bottom through the team’s first 33 games.

Both Vasquez (shown) and Ariza enter the top 5 for the first time all season.

1. Emeka Okafor, C: 27 GP, 28.9 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 53.7 FG%, 7.9 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 15.6 PER

At long last, we finally have a new face at the top of the rankings! Please join me in welcoming Mr. Okafor as our new #1, an honor earned by incredibly consistent play when healthy, but almost as importantly, a fair amount of ineptitude throughout the rest of the roster. He hasn’t played since being ranked behind Jack in the last set of rankings two weeks ago, but Jack’s slightly reduced role upon his return allowed Okafor to jump him for the top spot.

2. Jarrett Jack, PG: 26 GP, 34.6 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 43.2 FG%, 6.4 APG, 3.9 RPG, 17.5 PER

Jack has struggled a bit since returning from his injury, but he has still been the most consistent scoring option for the Hornets this season, especially in the clutch. With the emergence of Vasquez as a very reliable backup, Coach Williams hasn’t needed to rely on Jarrett so heavily in recent games, but Jack is still one of the Hornets’ most reliable players, and the guy they counted on most in the first half of the season when the team absolutely needed a bucket.

3. Gustavo Ayon, C: 26 GP, 17.8 MPG, 5.8 PPG, 58.3 FG%, 5.0 RPG, 19.7 PER

This guy just continues to get better and better, doesn’t he? He trails Kaman by just .2% for the highest rebound rate on the team (16.5%) and has an assist rate (17.3%) substantially higher than any other Hornet (Kaman is 2nd at 11%), not to mention well above the league average for power forwards (12.9%). Oh, and he also has the highest eFG% (FG% weighted for added value of 3-pointers) at 58.3%. If he can keep putting up these numbers, the only thing that could keep him from beginning next season as the Hornets’ starting power forward would be the team using its first round pick on a PF (which could very well happen).

4. Greivis Vasquez, PG: 33 GP. 24.0 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 41.8 FG%, 4.8 APG, 15.3 PER

Vasquez has been by far the Hornets’ most reliable player to have played in all 33 games this season (though his competition hasn’t been tough, as Belinelli and Aminu are the other two who can claim the same). His turnover rate over 20% isn’t very good, but his team high 46.5% assist rate helps to make it less bothersome. If Greivis learns to take better care of the ball (which hopefully will happen as he gains more NBA experience), I’ll be even more confident in his ability to be the Hornets’ backup point guard for the future.

5. Trevor Ariza, SF: 25 GP, 35.0 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 40.9 FG%, 5.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 14.6 PER

No Hornets player has improved as steadily throughout the season as Ariza. Check out some of his statistics by month:

  • December: 3 GP, 33.3 FG%, 62.5 FT%, 2.0 APG, 9.3 PPG
  • January: 10 GP, 39.8 FG%, 68.0 FT%, 3.2 APG, 10.4 PPG
  • February: 12 GP, 43.4 FG%, 87.1 FT%, 3.8 APG, 13.6 PPG

Add in his usual lock-down perimeter defense to this consistent improvement on the offensive end, and you’ll understand why Trevor has entered the top 5 for the first time this season.

6. Carl Landry, PF: 24 GP, 23.9 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 46.7 FG%, 4.4 RPG, 16.6 PER

The very reason that Ariza has risen in these rankings is exactly why Landry has fallen two spots. Despite overall solid offensive numbers, his lack of consistency due to both play and injuries have cost him. He had a 5-game stretch in mid-January during which he averaged under 15 MPG and only 3.2 PPG, shooting just 27% during that span. His rebound rate is up a bit from last season, but still well below the average for all NBA power forwards. Landry could easily make his way back up the rankings upon his return, but for now, this is where he stands.

7. Chris Kaman, C: 25 GP, 26.3 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 41.4 FG%, 7.5 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 13.8 PER

With Jack, Landry, Okafor, and Smith all missing substantial time over the past couple of weeks, Kaman has been asked to pick up a lot of the slack in the scoring department, and has done a satisfactory job. For every performance similar to his game vs. Utah on the 13th (27 points on 12-22 shooting and 13 rebounds), he would have two more similar to his game in Milwaukee on the 15th (18 points on 8-23 shooting). When a team has as few offensive weapons as the Hornets possess with so many players sidelined, Kaman is naturally forced to take some shots that he would not take under normal circumstances. He hasn’t played great, but he has done his best to fill a large void in the scoring department.

8: Jason Smith, PF: 21 GP, 21.5 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 47.3 FG%, 3.9 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 13.9 PER

Inactivity hasn’t affected Smith’s spot much; the only change was dropping below Kaman, as Belinelli’s overall resumé for this season still isn’t enough to move upward any further Hopefully, Smith returns to his sharp early-season form upon his return.

9: Marco Belinelli, SG: 33 GP, 30.0 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 41.7 FG%, 37.8 3P%, 2.6 RPG, 10.9 PER

Let’s play a game. I’m going to list two Hornets players and some of their stats, and you have to guess who each player is.

  • Player A: 18 GP, 38.5 FG%, 32.9 3P%, 74.1 FT%, 9.1 PPG
  • Player B: 12 GP, 47.1 FG%, 46.0 3P%, 84.4 FT%, 13.7 PPG

Any guesses? Truth is, it’s a trick question; the answer to both is Belinelli. Player A is Belinelli’s numbers in January, and Player B is his stats for February. He managed to raise his PER 2 full points over the past two weeks, and has been fairly pivotal to the Hornets’ recent 4-2 stretch. If he can keep up this hot streak after the all-star break, there could still be a chance that playoff-caliber teams in need of a 3-point shooter come calling.

10. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF: 33 GP, 19.5 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 38.2 FG%, 3.9 RPG, 8.9 PER

New week, same story for Aminu. With so many Hornets players missing in action and Al-Farouq asked to help carry the load, he put together one good game, one mediocre game, and four bad games over the past two weeks. His 14 point, 6 rebound performance in a loss in Oklahoma City was nice, but games like that need to happen more than two or three times a month for him to become a reliable rotation player in the NBA.

11. Xavier Henry, SG: 13 GP, 12.7 MPG, 3.9 PPG, 40.4 FG%, 1.3 RPG, 7.4 PER

If I could describe Henry in one word from what I have seen from him so far, it would be “frustrating.” He is leading the team (and all NBA shooting guards averaging at least 10 minutes per game with at least 10 games played) with an insane .51 free throw attempts per field goal attempt (more than twice the league average for shooting guards of .245), but is converting an abysmal 45.8% from the line. Despite his noticeable struggles with his jumpshot, if he could convert free throws anywhere near the NBA shooting guard average of 80.6%, he would be a substantially more efficient player given the rate at which he draws fouls. Get in the gym and start shooting foul shots, Xavier!

12. Lance Thomas, PF: 11 GP, 9.1 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 34.6 FG%, 3.0 RPG, 8.6 PER

Thanks to his strong work on the boards, the Hornets re-signed Lance Thomas to a second 10-day contract. That being said, unless the currently sidelined Hornets big men remain inactive for longer than expected, I doubt that he’ll get retained for the remainder of the season after this contract runs out.

UPDATE: I stand corrected; just one hour after I published these rankings, NOLA.com reported that the Hornets are likely to extend Thomas for the remainder of the season.

Incomplete: Eric Gordon, SG; Donald Sloan, G; Solomon Jones, C

Player Power Rankings is a weekly piece that you can find every Sunday only on Hornets247.com. For past rankings, click here.

6 comments
Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Love the analysis of Henry, and I completely agree. Guy gets to the line a ton, but his inability to convert basically washes that away. He was a good free throw shooter in HS and college, so you would think that it is just something mental that he will eventually gets over. And when he does, he might take it to the bucket even more, knowing he can knock down his free throws. Crazy that out of three first round picks from 2010, the guy drafted 28th looks like a sure bet to be an NBA rotation player while the guys ranked 8th and 12th are in danger of joining Julian Wright in Vince McMahon's XBA league in 2014.

NOLA Rising
NOLA Rising

Im really happy with Vasquez's play as of late if he keeps this up we have a very solid back up point guard that can anchor our second unit in the years to come. Also, I keep o waiting for Aminu to have that one game where EVERYTHING clicks, we keep seeing flashes of brilliance but he hasn't completely turned the corner yet. On a side note I miss J. Smith and Carl Landry

Nithenz
Nithenz

I would switch Ariza (to 4th) with Vazquez (5th), and Landy (to 8th) with Belli (6th). Ariza is a lockdown defender and has played great, as much as everyone loves Vazquez and want him to be great, he is no better than a backup PG. Belli has played and has made some shots lately... Landry, cant remember him playing and wont miss him if he is gone.

JT's Hoops Blog
JT's Hoops Blog

I'll give Greivis Vasquez more credit. He has certainly shown that he can be a starting PG in the future. He has a rare blend of talent size, skill and athleticism that has not been seen in a PG since Magic Johnson. Hopefully we can see him continue to develop ninto a quality PG.

ktrufant
ktrufant

I think comparing him to Magic may be overstating it a bit. And Vasquez is a little bit lacking in the athleticism department. That said I would give him more credit too.

504ever
504ever

I like the paragraphs and am not so hung up on the order. The main commment I have concerns Vasquez. Vasquez never had an assist to turnover ratio equal to or above the very mediocre 2:1 in college. I am not sure we will see his NBA ratio get much beyond the current 2.3:1. Also, the Hornets just announce they will sign Lance Thomas (who I love for the subtlety and sophistication of his game) for the rest of the year. So that comment is DOA. http://www.nola.com/hornets/index.ssf/2012/02/new_orleans_hornets_are_expect.html