Projecting the Hornets’ Rotations

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Published: August 18, 2012

In preparation for his wins prediction for the Hornets, Ryan tries to anticipate rotations for the coming season.

It’s always fun to speculate on rotations. As a necessary step to making projections on wins, this is something you have to nail down. Yeah, Gordon may play 37 minutes a game – but how many wins does he add if he only plays 60 games?

Well, before we get to the wins projections, here’s my thoughts on how the team rotations may look for the upcoming year. My games played projections are based on the player’s past seasons, with outliers minimized. I.E. for Eric Gordon, I used his games played for his first three seasons, and his 9-game debacle only slightly influenced the prediction. Minutes projections are based on past seasons, trends, and blind highly scientific guesswork analysis.

I’ll follow the table with how I arrived at some of those numbers.

Minutes per Position

Player G MPG Tot Min C PF SF SG PG
A Davis 78 36 2808 842 1544 421 0 0
R Anderson 72 32 2304 1613 691 0 0 0
E Gordon 60 37 2220 0 0 0 2109 111
A Aminu 82 27 2214 0 332 1882 0 0
G Vasquez 78 27 2106 0 0 0 0 2106
A Rivers 75 22 1650 0 0 0 660 990
J Smith 68 20 1360 272 1088 0 0 0
R Lopez 70 17 1190 1190 0 0 0 0
R Mason 70 14 980 0 0 245 735 0
D Miller 60 12 720 0 0 576 144 0
B Roberts 50 14 700 0 0 0 0 700
X Henry 52 10 520 0 0 260 260 0
L Thomas 60 8 480 0 144 336 0 0
H Warrick 30 10 500 0 90 210 0 0
Total 19552 3917 3889 3930 3908 3907
Available 82 240 19680 3936 3936 3936 3936 3936

So here’s the breakdown of each player.

Anthony Davis
The Hornets prize rookie will get every minute he can handle.  Looking at the past, star first round picks like Durant, Paul, LeBron, Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin log between 36 and 39 minutes per game.   The Hornets may ride him for more minutes, but because of the strength of the Hornets frontcourt rotation, I’m assigning him the lower number.  I also expect Davis – due to his footspeed and athleticism – to play multiple positions along the frontcourt.  I gave him the majority of his minutes (55%) at power forward, but also gave him 35% at center and the rest at small forward – for I fully expect to see some stretches where he plays next to Anderson and Smith/Lopez.  Versatility is a wonderful thing.

Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson isn’t a 3.  No team has ever played him any significant minutes at the 3.  He will get most of his minutes playing the 4/5 next to Anthony Davis.  He’s also signficantly better than Lopez and Jason Smith.   Over his career, Anderson does have a history of pulling up gimpy for a few games a season, so I gave him 72 games at his career high minutes from last season: 32.  I assigned him 70% of his time at center and 30% at power forward.

Eric Gordon
Even discarding the 9-game season, Gordon always sits out with some injuries. So I’ll have him average 37 minutes here, but for only 60 games. I expect he’ll spend 95% of his time at the SG position, and have some spot duty here and there at the point.

Al-Farouq Aminu
Outside of Gordon, the Hornets wing positions are very uncertain.  Rivers is a rookie, Henry, Thomas, Warrick, Mason and Darius Miller are all unspectacular.  Al-Farouq therefore inherits this spot by default – and ends up getting more minutes than I thought he would, just because I can’t justify giving anyone else long minutes here.  So Aminu, who hasn’t missed a game, gets 27 minutes a game over 82 games.   I gave him 15% of his time as a small-ball power forward, and 85% of his time on the wing. Make or break year for the young forward, people.

Greivis Vasquez
The Point is the other major issue on the Hornets’ roster and by default Vasquez will get the majority of the minutes here.  I just can’t see Rivers stealing the starting spot from him.  However, Vasquez’s limitations also make it very unlikely he’ll lock down huge minutes at this spot as Monty shuffles in and out different players to handle ball pressures and situations Vasquez isn’t suited to handle.  So I gave him 78 games (his average) with 27 minutes a game.  All his minutes come at the point – since the only player on this roster who would push him to the wing is Roberts – and I don’t see them playing that often together.

Austin Rivers
I fully expect Rivers to get long looks as the primary backup point guard and the primary backup shooting guard.  He won’t get the opportunity that Davis gets, but I expect to see him out there 22 minutes a game, with 60% of his time backing up Vasquez.  I gave him 75 games, though I have reservations about that.  He does like to throw himself into contact . .  .

Jason Smith
After last season, Smith deserves a solid stint every game, but with the frontcourt rotation the Hornets have, I have a hard time carving that much time out for him.  Based on his career so far, he has a history of missing games every season and therefore I have him pencilled in for 68 games at 20 minutes a game.  He gets 20% of his time at center, and the rest at power forward.

Robin Lopez
Lopez is, in football terms, a nickelback.  He won’t be out there on most plays, but comes in to cover particular types of guys when necessary and gives the regular corners a breather here and there.  Lopez will play against big centers and spell Anderson and Davis in the middle – but he’s never been special and I can’t see him beating out Davis, Anderson and Smith for more than 17 minutes a game – which, by the way, would be a career high.

Roger Mason
The Hornets needed a veteran wing player who could shoot to replace Belinelli and got him in Mason.  Since I don’t expect Rivers or Henry to lock down the third guard role I fully expect Mason to play a prominent role on the wing as Monty’s “veteran guy who gets huge minutes and makes fans scream for the young kids who haven’t proven themselves”.  I gave Money Mase 70 games at 14 minutes a pop, with 75% of his time as the shooting guard, and the rest providing a shooter at the small forward when Monty wants to stretch the floor.

Darius Miller
Miller will get the same sort of tryouts that Xavier Henry will get.  Something about his game screams Quincy Pondexter to me . . . Anyways, I expect him to get 60 games with 12 minutes per to try to establish himself.  I do see him as more of a forward than a wing, so I had him get 80% of his time as a small forward, and the rest at shooting guard.

Brian Roberts
A veteran of the european leagues, Roberts was solid in summer league – though he did show a penchant to let fly whenever he could.  I expect him to get minutes at the point when Monty needs a guard with more speed than Rivers and Vasquez possess.  50 games. 14 minutes per.

Xavier Henry
Henry has had two surgeries this summer and wasn’t exactly going gangbusters before that.  The Hornets will give him a shot at the wing, but I’m not expecting he’s going to put it all together after rehab.  I gave Xavier 52 games (4 13-game tryout sessions) at 10 minutes each.  I split his time evenly between the two wing spots.

Lance Thomas
Lance is a hustler, but he’s also a classic tweener forward without the athleticism to make up for the many times he can be outmuscled.  His energy will give him some short stretches of the bench all season, but I can’t see him as a major part of this rotation.  60 games.  8 mnutes.  With the crowd at the PF, I expect to see him get 30% of his time in the frontcourt and 70% of his time spelling Aminu on the wing.

Hakim Warrick
Warrick has a history of being a tremendous finisher at the rim – but last year he fell apart, had health issues, couldn’t crack a lame Suns rotation, and he’s always, always ranked as one of the worst defenders in the league.  I can’t imagine Monty playing Hak big minutes as a defensive sieve.  I gave him 30 games at 10 minutes each, with most of his minutes filling in at the SF.

So what do you think?  Think I’m giving too many or too little minutes to anyone?  Comment away.

36 comments
maximumballer
maximumballer

Nice article, I would just pencil in Mason at least 20min or more. Mason was somewhat promised big minutes from the way he talked in his press release. I honestly see a rotation of the big minutes going to Mason,Gordon,Rivers,Davis and Anderson. Only because I see Rivers and Gordon attacking on offense and Mason and Anderson are basically the two best 3 point shooters. We give up some on defense with mason playing the 3 but I cant see Miller or Aminu giving the punch Mason brings. Davis will play til his heart drops bc of his defensive skillset. We become a really fast transition team. Unless Aminu comes back from the Olympics with a nice jumper and better defensive skills, the Hornets are better equipped to win games with Mason at SF, eventhough he is a bit small, but he has the weight and girth to play the position.

David
David

I think it's tough to project how this rotation because there are so many players who play more than 1 position. Personally, I think you have Lopez, Rivers marked down for too few minutes. I think you will see Aminu's minutes at the 3 cut into a bit by these other players. I think you will see a lot of 3 guard lineups, w/ Vasquez/Gordon/Rivers on the floor at the same time. I also think you will see a lot of lineups that feature Anderson as the "3" offensively w/ Davis at the "4," then on the other end of the floor Davis as the "3" defensively and Anderson playing the 4. I've said it before, but if Peja can be a quality starting 3 there is no reason Anderson can't steal some minutes at the 3, especially on offense. I think our best lineup will be Rivers-Gordon-Aminu-Davis-Anderson - with Rivers playing off the ball - but think there will be a lot of mixing and matching. rivers (1/2/3), Gordon (1/2), Aminu (3/4), Davis (3/4/5), Anderson (3/4/5) can all play some combination of positions, and that will lead to an interesting rotation of guys.

AlterEgoOfJeffBower
AlterEgoOfJeffBower

This is a very interesting and informative discussion. One thing to consider is that unless you have Dwight Howard on your team or one of the very few players who can reasonably compare to him, the idea of playing anyone at the true center position for extended minutes is a diminishing concept in the NBA. Look at what Coach K did in the Olympics and what most of the competitive teams in the NBA playoffs did last year. If you look at Monty's history as the Hornets head coach, it appears he likes to start the game with a true center on the floor (my guess is Lopez will get the nod at first) but will pull him after about 6 to 8 minutes (or earlier if he gets 2 quick fouls) and will not play anyone in a true center position for much of the rest of the game. If Lopez proves to be a reliable free throw shooter as a Hornet, it's possible we'll see him some on defense at the end of close games when the Hornets have a small lead.

Zombian
Zombian

Maybe I'm losing it, but during Summer League didn't Monty say that he saw Anderson logging minutes at the three? I know McNamara has talked about how he thinks we'll see Anderson at the three offensively with a switch defensively.

J Money
J Money

I see a starting five of Smith, Davis, Andersen, Gordon, and Vasquez. For a small lineup I see; Davis, Anderson, Gordon, Rivers, Aminu

Brian
Brian

AD can play center. In practice he will get to bang with 2 big bodies in Lopez and Smith getting him ready for the stength of the game. How many true centers actually play in the NBA 2 or 3. He will be fine. And I could see him spending time at PF and SF. He is a dangerous talent and he is on the Hornets LMAO!!!

BIGBREED
BIGBREED

Great article Ryan! I 100% agree

Josh
Josh

Thanks. Great article. I disagree on Roberts's 14/game. I think maybe 9 minutes and give Rivers about 26 minutes.

Big Skip
Big Skip

Know it's a little off topic but great job getting Gerry V on the Podcast. I learned a lot that I didn't know about basketball and hope to hear more from him soon. You guys are great with the everything hornets. Thanks and keep up the great work.

Snow
Snow

I applaud you for putting so much work into this article. You guys really help all of us out with stuff like this. Definitely looking forward to the season

jose walter gonzalez
jose walter gonzalez

I guess you haven't watched Robin Lopez much, especially in that Lakers-Suns 7 game series 2 seasons ago...the guy gives you all out hustle and toughness and he doesn't back down from anybody ! What will keep him off the court is fouls, so that somebody else will have to come in to add fouls to that position... Theres a lot of "duplication" or depth on this squad especially at the forwards with lots of decisions for Monty and company. I was reading the comments on this guy Roberts on another page and it wa nothing but raves from people in Germany and his college days. he could be a surprise.

Chip
Chip

Ryan, Good article! I disagree with Lopez and Brian Roberts minutes. I feel R. Lopez will get over 30 minutes a game at Center. I based my projection for R. Lopez's minutes on the feel I received from Dell Demps after acquiring him. With Brian Roberts, I believe he will get 20-25 MPG unless we acquire another PG during or before the season. Watching the Summer League, A. Rivers was greatly outplayed at the PG position. I'm a big A. Rivers fan but he looks like a fish out of water and doesn't show the NBA speed to blow by or defend NBA Point Guards. At the Summer League, B. Roberts played well with efficiency. Overall a good article! I can't wait for the season.

boywonder360
boywonder360

I have listen for a good month about how you think that Lopez will not be the starting center or get the minutes. What I have to said to that is go listen to Demps comments after they aquired him. What you don't seen to understand is neither Anderson or David have the body to play again a lot of the center in the western conference. Next is if they had not plan on letting him be there starting center they wound have never went and gotten him. All I keep hearing on here and many other pages is what you'll would like to see happen, but alot of you'll are not thinking things through realistically. I like both Anderson and Davis but they aren't center. You'll need to truly look at the NBA center before you said something like that.

504ever
504ever

Jordan, We will see what happens. Whether Davis is brought along slowly or not, I still say Bosh and Howard are a better comparable for Davis's minutes. With 96 MPG PF and C each night and Anderson at, say 32, that leaves 64 minutes to be divided among Davis, Smith, Lopez, Thomas, and possibly Warrick. You do the math. Ryan's solution is: Davis gets 3.5 MPG at SF, Thomas gets 5.5 MPG at SF, and Warrick 'plays most of his [10 MPG] at SF'. I think that is way too many minutes at SF for each of them. My solution is fewer minutes for Davis and Warrick at PF and C. Try Anderson 32, Davis 29, Smith 21, and Lopez at 14 with a chance to go much higher if Lopez plays at the pre-surgery form. The worse Lopez plays, the more minutes for Thomas at PF, who mostly plays PF when someone is hurt. The better Lopez plays, the more minutes he picks up when other bigs are injured. (Injuries will expand the pie above 96 MPG for the PF and C positions, but hopefully not too much. That would mean we have a lot of injuries.) And, to be clear, I prevously expressed the opinion that Davis won't start on opening day. We will also see what happens here.

504ever
504ever

Ryan, Major points for having the stones to put this out there because minutes predictions are so difficult because of the interrelationships. Many players play more than one position and that has to be balanced, as does player skill set. I would have used younger PFs and Cs, who were more slightly built when the entered the league, as my comparison for Davis. Think Bosh and Howard. That gives Davis minutes in the low 30s before adjusting (downward) for management's consistent statements about Davis being brought along slowly; there has to be something they know about Davis that makes them say that. (Think of all of the players it was never said about.) I wouldn't be surprised to see management give Davis a ceiling of 29-30 MPG. So who gets the extra minutes? In my mind Anderson always would lead the team for the 96 minutes played at PF and C, and he plays most of them at PF. I have him in the 32-35 MPG range. I think Smith gets 20-23 MPG, with a greater percentage at C (on defense) than you have. On offense Smith can spread the floor for Davis or Lopez, just like Anderson, so he plays more. (The Hornets love a pick and pop game with a close to the basket C also on the floor like Chandler and Okafor. Lopez and Davis are that close to the basket C.) Lopez is the wild card. If he can return to pre-surgery form, he gets more than 17 MPG, with 20 MPG being a floor. If not, I expect to see Lance T. benefit as Lance's weaknesses are often masked playing against 2nd teamers, and his positioning leads to positive plays. He played 15 MPG last year, and we seem to be set at the C and PF positions for at least this year. So there aren't many options. I am not sold on Warrick even being asked to show up this year. Also, I expect Rivers to play only 15-18 MPG in spite of the current PG problem on the team. Dell loves to pick up players in the pre-season and early season; I expect it to happen again at PG and Rivers wil lose minutes because of it. Perhaps it is rose colored glasses, but I see Henry getting more minutes. His problems aren't physical, so the surgeries don't bother me as much. Also, I expect the staff to have worked hard to make his game more versatile, and show a belief in him to boost his confidence. I also expect Gordon to have a minute ceiling below 35 MPG in his first year under the monster contract. No one in the Hornets office wants to have to explain giving that contract to a guy who sits out a ton of games in 2013-14. So they will try to limit his minutes as a way to improve his long term health. If so, Henry will be their first choice to benefit from Gordon's 'pitch count'. Ryan, thanks again for putting this out there. It gives a well thought out starting point to the discussion.

Mac
Mac

But also great article, these kinds are my favorites

Jordan
Jordan

I don't think Brian Roberts will get any burn on the court until someone in the backcourt gets injured. I don't think Warrick gets any time period, kind of similar to Marcus Banks a few years ago. Other than that though I think it was spot on. Great article, can't wait for the season to start!!!

Mac
Mac

You have an error on Hackim Warrick. Should be 300, not 500

JT's Hoops Blog
JT's Hoops Blog

I see a strting lineup of C Lopez PF Anderson SF Davis SG Gordon PG Vasquez with Rivers, Smith, Aminu, and Warrick taking a bulk of the minutes in the second unit. Why put Davis at the three? Simple. at this point in his career, he does not have the body physically imposing enough to defends NBA caliber big men. In addition, it will cause great matchup difficulties considering the fact that he has played guard for most of his basketball career until he shot up 9 inches in one year. And finally, with the Hornets signing Ryan Anderson to 3 years and 24@ million, there's no doubt in my mind that he will be starting with the money that he will be making.

Schmide234
Schmide234

I'm getting something here...yes...a very strong presence in the room...it's...the GHOST OF BYRON SCOTT!!! he says....play....LOPEZ AT CENTER FOR 35 MPG HE IS OUT STARTING CENTER!!! and...hmm...lets see....Anderson at...THE THREE SPOT FOR ALL OF HIS MINUTES!!! thank you byron scott's ghost you guidance is greatly appreciated

Scott
Scott

Great artcile Ryan! However, I think that we'll see a lot less Roberts this year. I like the guy but I see him more as an end of the bench guy than a role player. I think that you should increase Rivers' minutes at the PG and move Mason's extra minutes from SF to PG. Just always thought he was more of a combo gaurd than a wing. And at SF I see an increase in minutes Henry. Although I might not like it, the guy has some serious upside and atleast deserves a shot. Also don't count out what Lance Thomas has done this Summer with the Select team. I see BIG improvement from him, and more minutes at the SF. Sorry to nitpick everything, but just wanted to say what I think!!

Aaron
Aaron

Jason Smith should get more minutes than Robin Lopez.He has proven to be a consistent player.Monty even called him the most improved on the team last season. I see him playing a MAJOR part in the rotation!

TBlaze
TBlaze

You honestly think Lopez will only play 17 minutes a game as our starting C? What was the point of acquiring him? I think he sees (or at least should see more minutes than Smith) And I think X sees more minutes that Roberts and Miller. Expect Rivers to play point when Vasquez is out and Roberts rarely be needed. He's just a camp body.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

It was Asst. Coach James B. who spoke in an interview about playing Ryan Anderson at the three. I think Monty will mess with it early, because there is nothing to lose this year, but the data will show that he is FAR better at the 4 and 5 and when games really matter for this team, you will never see Anderson at SF. As for some people who think Lopez will get 25-30 minutes per game... man do I wish gambling was legal. That would be some easy money to pick up on some "friendly wagers". He is our 4th big- I dont care how tall he is.

xman20002000
xman20002000

Lopez has attitude and part of the reason he had small minutes in the Suns was the rotation with Gortat and Channing... But Lopez doesn't back down.. That said we might get another C big bodied... It's rumored we might be after Josh Harrellson cut by the Rockets in order to make room for Carlos Delfino... He is listed as a PF for the Rockets but he is 6'10/278

maximumballer
maximumballer

Sac-Cousins Lakers-Howard Spurs-Duncan Blazers-Leonard Warriors-Bogut Mavs-Kamen Clippers-Jordan Utah-Jefferson Minny-? OKC-Ibaka Memphis-Gasol Houston-osik Phoenix-Gortat Yeah they will definitely play Lopez more than 17min. Half of these guys are beasts

Jordan
Jordan

I think you're taking the "brought along slowly" comments a little too literally. I think the statement means that tons of pressure won't be placed on his shoulders on day one, that they aren't going to be running offensive sets through him, and that they'll be very cautionary with any injuries he may encounter during the season. I have seen you say before that Davis won't start, which I can't imagine to be true. I think Ryan's correct about his playing time range. Development comes from being on the court. Starting him builds confidence, and playing time is what he needs, not bench time.

Matt O
Matt O

So because Davis grew 9 inched and went from a High School Guard to a College Centre he can play the Small Forward Position? That makes zero sense. Lebron, Pierce, Durant, Rudy Gay, Deng, Melo, Gallo & Iggy are all solid NBA 3 men. I cant see Davis anything like any of them. Duncan, Garnett, P Gasol, Dirk, Josh Smith, Blake Griffin, K.Love, Milsap & David West - these are some of the better Power Forwards in the leage. They all have similar skill sets to Davis. Each has a face up game with the ability to bang down low when needed. They all average a minimum of 15pts and 7 rebs with a block and steal. Anderson will be used as a C more often than not. Lopez will see his time increase when the Hornets play the likes of Philly (Bynum) LA (Howard) Memphis (M.Gasol) GSW (Bogut). Is it just me or does this make sense to other people too?

Nick
Nick

I like Davis as a three....let him focus on improving his core and strength rather than bulking up. He has some perimeter skill too. Imagine Davis shutting down LeBron, Rudy Gay, Melo, Durant. I think he could do it if he focuses on speed/lean muscle and coordination vs. gaining weight. He going to never be effective versus Zach Randolph, Al Jefferson, Bynum, D. Howard etc. He's too slim.

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

Thanks Scott, You may be right about Mason. I waffled between putting him at the PG spot too, and maybe I am being too kind to Roberts. I'd love for Henry to break out, but nothing I've seen makes me feel like he's on the verge of it. I would love it if he locked down the backup wing spot. Rivers as PG . . . we'll see.

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

Why would Lopez be our starting center? Because he's 7 feet tall? He's never had a great season, last year he played 14 minutes a game, and now he's supposed to be a big-minute starter? I don't get it. I'd rather start Davis and Anderson together and have Davis and his athleticism jump tip, therefore being a "Starting Center".

Zombian
Zombian

Thanks for the response. I agree about Lopez. I wrote a blog covering the same idea with Lopez on Hornetsreport. I keep seeing people say RoLo gets over 30 minutes a game or that Hornets are making the playoffs this season. I always want to bet embarrassment payoffs against them or something. I'll say it now, if either of those happen (barring serious injuries to other big men) I'll post a youtube video of me doing karaoke of Mariah Carey.

Chris
Chris

Davis is not a 3 and I don't see him playing that position at all next season. I don't understand why people assume that because he is not a bruising frontcourt player that he can't play the post in the NBA. What he lacks in muscle, he makes up for in instincts, athleticism, and natural ability. Davis will start, play a lot of minutes at the 4/5 next season, and will be major contender for Rookie of the Year.

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