Projecting the Hornets’ Rotations

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.


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