I'm sorry, but there is a clear #1 and he is not even on the list: DAVID STERN! This year, he got us a top 10 pick, Eric Gordon, Kaman, and Aminu for a guy who didn't want to be here, he increased ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, got a new arena lease, and brought in Mr. Benson. Hornets Power Rankings- Stern #1
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New Orleans Hornets 2011-12 Power Rankings, V.14
The Hornets finished the past week with a winning record (2-1) for the first time since their 3-0 run on the road the week before Mardi Gras. After losing by just two to the Kobe-less Lakers, New Orleans went on to take down both Sacramento and Utah; time to take a look at how the rankings were affected by these last three games.
1. Jarrett Jack, PG: 45 GP, 34.0 MPG, 15.6 PPG, 45.6 FG%, 6.3 APG, 3.9 RPG, 18.0 PER
The team’s top performer all year long, Jarrett will miss the remainder of this season with a stress fracture in his right foot. As I tweeted when the news first broke, you have to give the man props for giving it 110% every night despite a basically lost season from a postseason perspective. I’m looking forward to seeing him back on the court next season, which will be the final year of his current contract.
2. Chris Kaman, C: 46 GP, 29.4 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 44.5 FG%, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 15.6 PER
Another solid week for Kaman, making at least half of his shots in two out of the three games and pulling down double digit rebounds in the other. Kaman also had 8 blocks in that stretch, highlighted by a 5-block performance against the Lakers, a very impressive total given the size of their front court duo of Gasol and Bynum.
3. Trevor Ariza, SF: 41 GP, 32.9 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 41.7 FG%, 5.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 14.3 PER
Monty decided to sit Ariza all week in order to give some extended minutes to a few of the team’s younger guys, such as Aminu, Henry, and Thomas. In my opinion, a very smart move by Coach Williams; at this point in the season, player development and evaluation should be a bigger priority than winning basketball games for the sake of the team’s future.
4: Jason Smith, PF: 34 GP, 23.9 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 51.7 FG%, 4.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 16.4 PER
Is it too crazy to throw Jason’s name in the conversation for this season’s most improved player award? His PER by season – 10.74, 10.64, 10.84, 16.39. The league needs more players like Smith, as the guy is essentially a poster boy for what hard work can do in the NBA. For the past 3 seasons, he wasn’t much more than a non-physical 7-footer with a nice jumper; now, he is so much more. His defense has vastly improved, his turnover rate is down to 9.2% (about 3% lower than his career average), and his true shooting percentage is over 50% (53.6%, to be exact) for the first time in his career. I’m still not sure if can quite call him a legitimate starting power forward, but his game has developed to the point where he can clearly be considered a top-tier big man off the bench.
5. Gustavo Ayon, C: 48 GP, 20.1 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 54.1 FG%, 4.8 RPG, 16.6 PER
Ayon’s minutes have been cut back recently largely due to fatigue; in his Mexican league career up to this point, Ayon simply has never played this many games in one season. To Gustavo’s credit, one thing that recently caught my eye – Ayon is 3rd on the team in steals per game at 1.04, trailing only Ariza and Gordon. That number ties him for 4th in the NBA among power forwards who have played at least 30 games.
6. Carl Landry, PF: 34 GP, 24.7 MPG, 12.2 PPG, 48.7 FG%, 5.0 RPG, 17.1 PER
Landry played what may have been his best game of the season on Monday night against the Lakers, finishing with a double-double: 20 points on 8-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, and a season-high 5 assists. His next two games were pretty quiet, though, totaling just 13 points on 10 shots and 6 rebounds in both games combined.
7. Greivis Vasquez, PG: 56 GP. 24.9 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 44.1 FG%, 5.2 APG, 15.0 PER
With Jack out for the season, Greivis will finish the season as the Hornets’ starting point guard, and had a decent week in that role. He averaged just under 15 points on an even 50% shooting and just over 7 assists. At 6’6″, however, I would still like to see him get more than 4 rebounds over a 3-game stretch.
8. Emeka Okafor, C: 27 GP, 28.9 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 53.7 FG%, 7.9 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 15.6 PER
Likely out for the season.
9: Marco Belinelli, SG: 59 GP, 30.2 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 42.1 FG%, 38.3 3P%, 11.8 PER
Marco had a pretty quiet game on Friday night against Utah, but his prior two games were pretty impressive. He scored 20 points on 15 shots against the Lakers, and then followed that up with an even more impressive 21 points on just 9 shots against the Kings. Over 2 points per field goal attempt from Beli? Go figure. He made exactly half of his 16 3-point attempts throughout the week. Pretty good week for Marco, as he seems to have improved as the season has progressed.
10: Eric Gordon, SG: 6 GP, 34.3 MPG, 20.5 PPG, 45.0 FG%, 3.2 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 19.3 PER
After missing the team’s first two games of the week with a minor back injury, Gordon came back against Utah and had a pretty nice game. He made 11 of his 18 shots for 25 points, including a stretch late in the 4th quarter that reminded me of some other former Hornets guard who liked to take over games from time to time. He also showed off his passing skills with 6 assists while turning the ball over just twice in 37 minutes of action. Get this guy a long-term deal!
11. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF: 59 GP, 20.9 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 41.6 FG%, 4.3 RPG, 10.5 PER
Apart from some turnover issues, Aminu had a pretty solid and consistent week. He averaged 8.3 points on 60% shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks over the 3-game stretch. He has clearly made some improvements since the beginning of the season, and should continue to do so, especially if he learns to make smarter decisions on offense. His turnovers usually come from ill-advised, out of control drives to the basket, usually occurring at least twice per game.
12. Xavier Henry, SG: 39 GP, 16.8 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 40.9 FG%, 2.3 RPG, 10.6 PER
Henry bounced back from a rough night against the Lakers with a super-efficient game against the Kings. After converting on just one of eight shots on Monday, Xavier made five of his six attempts on Wednesday for a total of 14 points. He didn’t see as many minutes on Friday night due to Gordon’s return, but he was able to score six points on his three field goal attempts. Another nice thing about Henry is his ability to take care of the ball; his turnover rate of right around 9% is a pretty respectable number.
13. Lance Thomas, PF: 35 GP, 13.7 MPG, 3.9 PPG, 46.6 FG%, 2.9 RPG, 10.1 PER
Thomas saw some time at the small forward position in the game against the Lakers, but it was pretty clear that he was out of position playing at that spot. As a result, his minutes fell from 12 to 4 between Monday and Wednesday, and he was the one cut from the rotation entirely on Friday night when Gordon returned to the court.
Incomplete: Chris Johnson, C; Jerome Dyson, PG
Player Power Rankings is a weekly piece that you can find every Sunday only on Hornets247.com. For past rankings, click here.