New Orleans Hornets 2011-12 Power Rankings, V.12

Published: April 1, 2012

Despite having an active roster in single digits for most of the week, the Hornets fought tough; the 1-3 record might not look great, but the mere -1.5 scoring margin shows how well the team played, especially considering how undermanned it was.

Despite a rough season overall, Marco had a fantastic 2-game stretch this week.

1. Jarrett Jack, PG: 44 GP, 34.1 MPG, 15.6 PPG, 45.5 FG%, 6.4 APG, 3.9 RPG, 18.1 PER

Chris Paul wreaked havoc on both Hornets PGs on Monday night, but apart from that, Jack had a pretty decent week, especially in the assists column. With a combined zero games played from last week’s 2nd and 3rd ranked players and the only player on the team with a PER above 18, Jack is looking like the only possible candidate to finish the season atop the Hornets player power rankings.

2. Gustavo Ayon, C: 41 GP, 21.3 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 55.1 FG%, 4.9 RPG, 17.0 PER

Ayon had an average game against the Clippers to start this past week’s slate of games with an 8 point, 8 rebound effort, but missed the rest due to the expected birth of his child. Still, his consistent production, not exactly spectacular yet rarely detrimental to the team, is enough to keep him in the #2 slot.

3. Trevor Ariza, SF: 38 GP, 33.6 MPG, 11.0 PPG, 41.0 FG%, 5.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 14.2 PER

Ariza has been a bit gimpy all week with a bum ankle that he aggravated in the Clippers’ game and hasn’t played since. That game wasn’t a pretty one for him, but it wasn’t pretty for any member of the Hornets, either. His overall numbers may not turn any heads, but it’s clear that Ariza is playing much smarter basketball this season compared to last, mainly in the shot selection category. Most of his poor looks have come out of necessity, not choice.

4. Chris Kaman, C: 39 GP, 29.3 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 43.5 FG%, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 15.0 PER

With what, according to Coach Monty Williams, appeared to be some form of bronchitis, Kaman missed every game this week. I would expect him to be back for Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets, but at this point in the season, who knows?

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

I’m starting to really believe that Oak might be done for the season. Good news for the tank, bad news for fans of his, such as myself.

6. Carl Landry, PF: 28 GP, 24.9 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 49.0 FG%, 4.9 RPG, 17.3 PER

After two games in which the Hornets leaned on him to score similarly to the way they have relied on Kaman, Landry missed Saturday afternoon’s match-up against the Lakers with a sprained ankle that he tweaked on Thursday night. Carl had an incredibly efficient offensive week, scoring 58 points on just 37 shots in 3 games to go along with over 8 rebounds per game as well. Take notes, Kobe!

7: Jason Smith, PF: 27 GP, 23 MPG, 9.3 PPG, 48.9 FG%, 4.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 15.4 PER

Jason continued his excellent play as of late, bumping his PER up by an very impressive 1.3 points over the past week. The increase likely doesn’t have much to do with his offense, either; while 42 points on 33 shots is pretty good, I would point to the 25 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals, and just 1 turnover over the past three games as the real reason. Joe and I discussed it on The Swarm on Saturday afternoon, but it’s funny how skeptical many of us (both of us included) were in regards to the three year, $7.5 million deal that Smith received before the season; his improved play this year is making that contract seem incredibly reasonable.

8. Greivis Vasquez, PG: 52 GP. 23.9 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 43.2 FG%, 4.9 APG, 14.3 PER

Vasquez’s decision-making as of late has been quite disappointing. Getting terrorized by Chris Paul is understandable (6 turnovers in 22 minutes), but 4 turnovers against Portland when your primary match-up is the grossly out of shape Raymond Felton is an entirely different story. His scoring numbers have still been solid, as he made just over 50% of his shots last week, but only getting to the free throw line 5 times (making just 2) and a 2-1 assist-turnover ratio mars the good shooting from the field.

9: Marco Belinelli, SG: 52 GP, 30.6 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 42.0 FG%, 37.8 3P%, 2.6 RPG, 11.3 PER

Despite what has otherwise been a pretty brutal season for Beli, he played what may have been the best back-to-back games of his career this past week. On Wednesday and Thursday at Golden State and Portland, Marco totaled 49 points on 31 shots, including a sizzling 11-16 from beyond the arc. In those two games alone, he raised his 3 point percentage for the season a full 2.5%, from 35.6% to 38.1%. Nice to see Belinelli achieve a bright spot in a down year for him.

10. Lance Thomas, PF: 30 GP, 14.6 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 47.4 FG%, 3.1 RPG, 10.8 PER

Game in and game out, you pretty much know what you’re going to get from Lance – he rebounds well, will score a few points, make his free throws (he went to Duke, after all), and fight hard on defense despite his thin frame. Despite his limited talent, I always love the hustle and intensity he brings when he is on the court. He never takes a play off; kind of reminds me of a better rebounding, more athletic Ryan Bowen.

11. Xavier Henry, SG: 32 GP, 16.2 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 39.5 FG%, 2.1 RPG, 10.1 PER

Nothing spectacular from Henry this week, but nothing terrible either. His shooting percentage wasn’t great, but he earned 12 free throws on 26 field goal attempts; unfortunately, he only made 6 of those 12. Disappointing overall scoring numbers, but the continued ability to get to the charity stripe combined with just one turnover all week long keeps me optimistic that he’ll figure things out.

12. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF: 52 GP, 20.1 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 40.3 FG%, 4.2 RPG, 10.4 PER

Though he still had his moments on offense that leave you shaking your head and wondering “what was he thinking?”, Aminu had a pretty decent week otherwise. He was the lone bright spot in the Hornets’ turnover fest against the Clippers, making 7 of 8 attempts from the field and only turning the ball over once himself. Al-Farouq also seems to be putting it together more and more on defense, as evidenced by the 8 steals he recorded over the past four games. Maybe there is hope for Aminu yet!

Incomplete: Eric Gordon, SG; Chris Johnson, C

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


  1. 504ever

    April 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I don’t think the Jason Smith’s current contract was viewed with as much skepticism as you and Ryan had. That was a reasonable contract for the 2010-11 Jason Smith. Any upside, which we are already seeing, just made the deal even better for the Hornets, and he is durable.

    Consider the last guy off the bench in the NBA gets $0.75M/year. The 2011-12 rookie deals, sweatheart deals for NBA teams, which most closely approximates Smith’s contract are #6 pick Jan Vesely and number 7 pick Bismack Biyombo. If you are saying, “Who?” you get my point. They are similar in size to Smith and one plays his amount of minutes, 28 (the other plays 20), but their PERs are much lower than Smith’s. Plus we had to sign Smith on the open market; we didn’t automatically get him at a rookie scale contract. His contract looks really good from the Hornet’s point of view.

    • Mason Ginsberg

      April 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      Out of all NBA power forwards who played in at least 40 games and 10 minutes per game in the 2010-11 season (Jason played 14.3 MPG in 77 games), Smith had the 6th worst PER in the league (10.82).

      His PER over his first 3 seasons hovered between 10 and 11, and that is right where Hollinger projected it to be before the season (10.87). The HUGE 4+ point jump in PER that he has made to reach his current league-average rating is one that very few people (outside of Dell and Monty, apparently) saw coming.

      Giving a rookie that kind of contract is different from giving Smith the same contract. In a rookie, you assume steady improvement as he becomes accustomed to the NBA and improves his game. While Smith was only 25 when he agreed to his current deal, the fact that he showed very little improvement throughout his first three seasons made me skeptical on whether or not he would make any sort of substantial jump forward in the future.

      Basically, it comes down to this: 2007-10 Jason Smith’s production is VERY similar to that of Lance Thomas this season. Assuming his production remains consistent over the final month of the season, would you really feel good about giving Thomas a 3-year, $7.5 million extension this coming offseason? I sure wouldn’t.

  2. 504ever

    April 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I don’t agree with the Lance Thomas comparison and think it shows how statistics can be misleading. (Plus you stacked the deck using Smith’s career stats, not his 2010-11 Hornets stats.) Smith has a reliable jump shot Thomas will never have. Plus Smith is an athletic 7’0″, four inches taller than Thomas.

    Smith clearly showed signs of ability last year: accurate jump shot, runs the floor, plays within system, very good athleticism for his size.

    As for his increase in PER, it’s not unreasonable for a players’ PER to improve with roster changes or increased minutes. Reshaping a team can play more to that players strengths, and increase his PER, if you see the strengths ahead of time.

    • Mason Ginsberg

      April 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      Jason Smith’s PER by season in his first three years – 10.74, 10.64, 10.84. I only used his whole career because each individual season was so similar to the others.

      I’ll be the first to admit that you can’t evaluate a player solely using his PER, but it’s the best single evaluation tool that we have. Smith and Thomas’ skill sets and height are indeed different, and I didn’t mean to compare their style of play, merely their overall production and contributions to the team. I would pay a bit of a premium for ’10-’11 Smith over ’11-’12 Thomas because of Smith’s height advantage, but apart from that, I’m not sure I would view the two much differently.

      I agree with your last assessment in regards to reshaping a team affecting a player’s performance as well, but I would actually argue that last season’s Hornets team may have been even more suited for Smith’s strengths purely due to the pick-and-pop potential between he and Chris Paul. Even if I am wrong in that conjecture and this Smith’s game is a better fit for this year’s team, a jump in efficiency across the board as significant as his from ’10-’11 to ’11-’12 came largely out of nowhere.

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