New Orleans Hornets 2011-12 Power Rankings, V.13

Published: April 8, 2012

The Hornets finished their most recent week’s slate of games with a 2-2 record and are 2-1 since the return of all-star shooting guard Eric Gordon. How will EJ’s return affect the rankings?

Eric Gordon made his long-anticipated return to action in the Hornets' win over Denver on Wednesday night.


1. Jarrett Jack, PG: 45 GP, 34.0 MPG, 15.6 PPG, 45.6 FG%, 6.3 APG, 3.9 RPG, 18.0 PER

Despite 5 games played this season for Gordon, Jack and EJ have only played together for one of them. Jack missed the most recent 3 games this week with a minor ankle injury after posting an average performance in Phoenix last Sunday.

2. Chris Kaman, C: 43 GP, 29.2 MPG, 13.2 PPG, 44.3 FG%, 8.0 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 15.5 PER

Two solid games and two sub-par games from Kaman this week; take a wild guess which were which? In the Hornets’ two wins over the past four, Kaman scored 35 points by making a combined 15 out of 21 field goal attempts, to go along with 20 rebounds, 6 assists, and a very impressive 9 blocked shots. In the team’s two losses? A total of 16 points on 7-19 shooting with just 6 rebounds, including a uninspiring one rebound performance in 25 minutes of action in the disaster in San Antonio. Still, Kaman can get his shot off over almost anybody, and when he’s on, he can really help a team like the Hornets that lacks many scoring options.

3. Trevor Ariza, SF: 41  GP, 32.9 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 41.7 FG%, 5.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 14.3 PER

After missing Sunday’s game in Phoenix, Ariza was able to suit up for the team’s next three games, although playing limited minutes in San Antonio (due to the blowout nature of the game) and here against Minnesota (due to a nagging ankle injury). His numbers for the week were pretty solid, though, with averages of 8.3 points on 6 shots in just 24 minutes per game, clearly not trying to force anything with the re-insertion of a scorer like Gordon into the lineup.

4. Gustavo Ayon, C: 45 GP, 20.7 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 54.0 FG%, 4.8 RPG, 16.5 PER

With the return of Carl Landry combined with Jason Smith’s recent hot stretch, no Hornets big man has seen his minutes affected more than Ayon, evidenced by his mere one minute of playing time in Saturday night’s victory over Minnesota. He rebounded pretty well (3.75 boards in just 14.5 minutes per game), but didn’t have a chance to do too much apart from that.

5: Jason Smith, PF: 31 GP, 23.4 MPG, 9.7 PPG, 50.9 FG%, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 16.2 PER

Smith continued his torrid scoring stretch as of late, knocking down 24 of his 38 shots (63.2%) over the past 4 games. The week was capped off by his insane 12-16 shooting night on Saturday against the Timberwolves, a game in which he also pulled down 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Potentially the most impressive part of Smith’s numbers this season is his 50%+ field goal percentage despite taking 54% of his shots from between 16-23 feet. He is making 45% of his shots from that distance, well above the league average of just 37.9%.

6. Carl Landry, PF: 31 GP, 24.8 MPG, 12.3 PPG, 48.2 FG%, 4.8 RPG, 16.5 PER

After sitting out Sunday’s game in Phoenix, Landry had a pretty solid week in the three games that followed. It would be difficult to see by looking simply at his shooting numbers (9 for 23 total), but he averaged over 7 free throws in those games, resulting in a total of 33 points on just 23 shots. Add in his 5.7 rebounds per game, and Landry’s production looks pretty good.

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

Another week of DNPs for Okafor, and I don’t see foresee a set of circumstances that will get him back on the court this season.

8. Greivis Vasquez, PG: 56 GP. 24.4 MPG, 8.4 PPG, 43.7 FG%, 5.1 APG, 14.5 PER

Starting 3 games this week in the place of an injured Jarrett Jack, Vasquez averaged 11 points, just under 7 assists, and a little over 4 rebounds in 30.5 minutes of action. Greivis also did a much better job taking care of the basketball this week than he has been doing recently, and improvement in that area is always nice to see, especially in a young player like him.

9: Eric Gordon, SG: 5 GP, 33.8 MPG, 19.6 PPG, 41.5 FG%, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 17.9 PER

Welcome back, Commissioner Gordon! It is so refreshing to see a player in a Hornets uniform who can create his shot as effortlessly as EJ. He is clearly still shaking the rust off, as evidenced by his combined 6-23 shooting in home wins against Denver and Minnesota (though he got to the line a total of 14 times in those games). That being said, Hornets fans got a glimpse of what he is capable of in the loss to San Antonio; he was the team’s lone bright spot, dropping 31 points on 11-19 shooting to go along with 4 assists and 3 steals.

10: Marco Belinelli, SG: 56 GP, 30.2 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 41.7 FG%, 37.6 3P%, 2.7 RPG, 11.3 PER

After an average night in Phoenix (14 points on 14 shots, though the 7 rebounds were nice), it was back to the second unit for Belinelli, as Marco saw his minutes fall to a little under 22 per game backing up Gordon. When Jack returns, Beli will likely see his minutes continue to fall, likely allowing the Hornets to utilize him in the role that he was meant to play: 3-point shooter off the bench.

11. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF: 56 GP, 20.3 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 40.6 FG%, 4.2 RPG, 10.1 PER

Aminu had some turnover issues this week (2.5 in a little over 23 minutes per game), but apart from that, he didn’t play too poorly. Despite his one or two customary offensive lapses per game, he looks like he has benefited from the heavy minutes he has played this season. For the week, he averaged 6 points on 5 shots with 4 rebounds; not too bad, all things considered. Aminu will be one of the guys that I am watching most carefully for the rest of the season, and I would expect the Hornets’ management to be doing the same to determine just how productive of an NBA career he can ultimately have.

12. Xavier Henry, SG: 36 GP, 16.5 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 40.0 FG%, 2.1 RPG, 9.9 PER

I have been very happy that Henry’s minutes have not been adversely affected as a result of Gordon’s return, as what I wrote about the evaluation of Aminu can absolutely apply to Xavier as well. Though his jumpshot clearly needs work, he takes good care of the ball, has a high basketball IQ, and is pretty athletic. Like Aminu, for the purpose of his development and for the team to evaluate his progress, the more minutes Henry sees from here on out, the better.

13. Lance Thomas, PF: 33 GP, 14.1 MPG, 4.1 PPG, 47.0 FG%, 3.0 RPG, 10.4 PER

Thomas didn’t fall to the bottom of these rankings due to less effective play, but instead merely due to a lack of playing time with the team’s suddenly-deep and healthy front court. He didn’t play at all in the game against Denver, and received just 9 minutes per game in the other three this past week. Barring another injury to someone in front of him, minutes may be tough to come by for Thomas throughout the duration of the season.

Incomplete: Chris Johnson, C

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


  1. Jason Calmes

    April 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    You were put into a difficult with the return of EJ. I’d’ve stuck him last, but I have a vindictive streak that would hold me to some vicious compliance to the body-of-work criteria.

    I think you ranking is fair, but I am torn putting him or Beli higher. Beli really has done what he was supposed to do and more; he just wasn’t supposed to do much. At $3.3m (prorated) and 2 win shares already, he’s basically contributing the results per dollar one would expect from a mid-pack player, and he is likely below that, so we win.

    The point of the poll isn’t to see who’s pulling their fair share of weight, but I bring up Marco’s info to point out that he’s being judged as a starter often, and he just isn’t that quality . . . he just starts.

    He’s right to be over Henry at this point.

  2. 504ever

    April 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    It’s hard to see Ayon ranked above Smith. Smith scores better and rebounds as well as Ayon, despite playing nearly exclusively (and more than Ayon) in the high post on offense. Ayon just doesn’t have the mid-range shot, or game, Smith has. When we needed a basket to stop Minni’s last run of the game, who took it and made it. Gordon? Kaman? Landry? Ayon? No it was Jason Smith! And Ayon just flat out isn’t playing now.

    • Solesfan

      April 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      Yes,Ayon is literally not playing!1 minute or less on Saturday’s game!Thanks to coach Marty,seems like Ayon doesn’t have a place in his playing scheme nor Hornets future.

    • Mason Ginsberg

      April 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      I think it’s pretty clear that Smith is vastly outplaying Ayon right now, but it’s important to keep things in perspective; the rankings are a season-to-date evaluation, and Gustavo’s January and February were better than Jason’s. Of course, when analyzing both players’ entire seasons, arguments can be made for both.

      • Jason Calmes

        April 8, 2012 at 11:01 pm

        The entire Jason community is pulling for Mr. Smith in this case, but we do understand and respect the rankings.

  3. Hornetsfan!!

    April 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Lets not get carried away people. smith is good, but overall he’s no better than Okafor, Landry and Kaman.
    i think the rankings are good, love seeing it every week!!

  4. Chris

    April 9, 2012 at 4:50 am

    Jason Smith has a place in the starting lineup, he gets better and better. A big man who can rebound and scorer…he can still improve trying to improve as scorers and being more obsessed in scoring.. if the Hornets decide to trade Okafor and Kaman, he can play center with Carl Landry on power forward, Jarrett Jack on point guard, Eric Gordon on shooting guard and Trevor Ariza on small forward.. for me the players who are likely to be traded are Kaman, Okafor (both big last year contracts)
    Aminu. The question we have to ask is what will happen with Eric Gordon? will he stay or is he going to be traded for an additional 3rd first round pick? what do you think? Kaman and Okafor would also clear a lot of space in the salary cap..
    in addition to the that, New Orleans will soon have a new team owner.. so there are a lot of options but I know that Monty and Dell will make the best choices..

    • Mason Ginsberg

      April 9, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Offensively, a front line of Smith and Landry would stretch teams, but the combo would also get absolutely demolished on the defensive glass. Smith may be 7 feet tall, but he isn’t strong enough to bang bodies with opposing centers, and Landry has always been a poor defensive rebounder.

  5. George

    April 9, 2012 at 5:29 am

    A front line of Jason Smith and Landry means you have no championship hopes unless the other three players are Deron Williams, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. Also, Okafor isn’t on the last year of his contract but he should be amnestied.


    April 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    good position for beli, he deserve to be last in the rankings

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