New Orleans Hornets 2012-13 Power Rankings – Preseason

Published: October 31, 2012

With the New Orleans Hornets’ 2012-13 regular season set to tip off tonight, let’s run through the roster from top to bottom with the first player power rankings of the year.

As Michael mentioned in his Letter from the Editor last week, these player power rankings will take on a different look this season as far as statistics go. We will utilize many of the statistical categories outlined in my three-part Advanced Stats Tutorial¬†over the past two weeks to make a more proper evaluation of each Hornets player’s contributions (click here for a glossary of the statistic abbreviations). For this week only, the numbers presented are derived from the 2011-12 season. For the start of the year, I have split the rankings into three clear categories: the “known” commodities, the “unknown” new faces, and then the “rest.”

UPDATE: Given the information presented by Coach Monty Williams today, I have included a special fourth category as well.


The Wild Card

NR) Eric Gordon, SG9 GP, 54.9 TS%, 33.3 %Ast, 19.25 PER

This is largely a discussion for another day, but with Monty Williams coming out today and saying that Gordon is out indefinitely, he now moves from the top of the rankings to being entirely unranked. Monty’s quotes seem to indicate that he believes (after talking with team doctors) that Gordon’s knee is healthy enough for him to play, but that Eric has decided otherwise, claiming the pain in his knee is too worrisome for him to take the court. Until he checks into a game, the pain that we all feel will also be too worrisome for me to include him in the player power rankings.


The Knowns

1) Ryan Anderson, PF61 GP, 58.9 TS%, 13.0% ORR, 21.25 PER

Among players averaging over 30 minutes per game last season, Anderson posted the 8th highest true shooting percentage in the NBA, ranking 1st among power forwards. Those rankings are a pretty clear indication of his scoring ability, and it will be desperately needed for the Hornets to run a successful offense this year. Also, just to drive this point home – no, his offensive success was not heavily correlated to playing with Dwight Howard. He will score here in New Orleans, and it will be a lot of fun to watch.

2) Anthony Davis, PF

Obviously, there’s no available NBA advanced stats for Davis yet, but none are necessary to rank him third on this list; I think the whole “easiest #1 pick since LeBron James” label took care of that for him. The two numbers to watch for Davis will be his TS% and his %Ast (% of field goals assisted); these numbers will tell us how efficient of shots he’s taking, and how well he is able to create for himself. If both stats are high in the early going, it should be a fantastic sign for his offensive growth; even if they’re not, though, it is by no means a cause for concern.

3) Jason Smith, C40 GP, 53.7 TS%, 9.79% TOR, 16.66 PER

Given the majority of Smith’s field goal attempts are of the mid-range jumper variety, his true shooting percentage being above the league average is pretty impressive. If he can add a couple feet of range to his baseline jumper and extend it to the 3-point line, he could see a giant uptick in this area. In addition, it would be fantastic if Smith can keep his turnover rate in the single digits; if he can do so while lowering his 80.7 %Ast rate (meaning 4 out of every 5 field goals that Smith made came as a result of an assist), even better.

4) Robin Lopez, C64 GP, 11.4% ORR, 52% FTR, 15.24 PER

Lopez wasn’t completely healthy for much of last season, but two stat categories stand out for his 2011-12 season in a good way – his offensive rebound rate and his free throw rate. His ORR of 11.4% was significantly higher than the 9.6% league average for centers; a tandem of he and Ryan Anderson on the offensive glass could provide major problems for opponents. Second, his 52% free throw rate demolishes the 37% league average for centers in 2011-12. If he can improve on his 71.4% career free throw percentage, he could stand to seriously improve his offensive efficiency numbers.

5) Greivis Vasquez, PG66 GP, 49.8% AR, 20.5% TOR, 14.35 PER

Vasquez’s ball distribution skills appear to be above average, but a problem of his last season has appeared to carry over into this preseason – turnovers. His assist rate from 2011-12 was well above the PG league average of 38.1%, but his turnover rate was also above the 17.8% PG league average. If Vasquez can simply take care of the ball, he can be a respectable (though not great) floor general for this Hornets team. If not, he’ll just be viewed a starter who should really be coming off of the bench and nothing more.

6) Al-Farouq Aminu, SF 66 GP, 12.4% TRR, 18.0% TOR, 10.62 PER

Apart from Aminu’s solid 12.4% total rebound rate (the SF league average is just 9%), there really isn’t much else positive to say about Aminu’s 2011-12 season. He was one of the most turnover-prone wing players in the NBA; last season, only Thabo Sefalosha and Hedo Turkoglu turned the ball over more on a higher percentage of their possessions. In order to be considered an effective NBA player, he either needs to make huge strides on the defensive side of the ball or learn to take a lot better care of the ball. Otherwise, he’ll struggle to contribute on a consistent basis.


The Unknowns

7) Austin Rivers, G

As the player among the four unknowns with the best reputation preceding him, Rivers tops this group. He has a lot to prove to become worthy of his top-1o selection, but it’s not something he has to prove even this season. For now, Rivers needs to learn the NBA game, predominantly through acting like a sponge with Coach Monty Williams, and play with 110% effort every single minute he’s on the court. If he can do that, he has the raw talent to succeed in this league for a long time.

8) Darius Miller, SF

After a strong preseason, mid-second round pick (and Kentucky teammate of Davis) Darius Miller may have earned himself some decent minutes off of the Hornets’ bench. He is a solid shooter and doesn’t turn the ball over very often. Though not a great athlete, he has the size (6’8″) to be a good rebounder, and if he can improve in that area, he could have an important role for this Hornets team sooner than anyone may have expected.

9) Brian Roberts, PG

Roberts continues to prove doubters wrong, following up an impressive Summer League showing with a very good preseason. As a result, he has locked up the team’s backup point guard spot to start the year. We’ll quickly find out if he is the real deal once he sees action in games that actually mean something, but his play in a Hornets uniform up until now has rightfully earned him that chance.


The Rest

10) Roger Mason Jr., SG52 GP, 51.4 eFG%, 81.6 %Ast, 12.19 PER

In Mason, the Hornets are after two things – 3-point shooting and veteran leadership. Other than that, he doesn’t bring much else to the table. His 38.3% 3-point percentage in 2011-12 helped him to an above-average eFG% for shooting guards, but it came thanks to a whopping 81.6% of his made shots being assisted. Other than that, he is an average defensive rebounder and defender for his position, and well below average at earning trips to the free throw line. His success on the court this season will purely be determined by his long range shooting, much in the same way as Marco Belinelli was judged.

11) Lance Thomas, F42 GP, 54.2 TS%, 49% FTR, 10.15 PER

This year will be huge for Thomas’ career; he has shown some promise in some areas, but his overall production to date has been lacking. On one hand, his exceptionally high free throw rate coupled with his 84% free throw percentage led to an impressive 54.2% true shooting percentage, but he is also a woeful passer and cannot handle the ball very well. Defensively, he is a great help defender but gets muscled easily in the post. He doesn’t have the ball skills to play major minutes at SF, but there are very few minutes (if any) available at PF for the Hornets, so it will be interesting to see the adjustments that Thomas makes to earn a role in the rotation.

12) Xavier Henry, SG45 GP, 37% FTR, 45.0 TS%, 9.24 PER

After seeing him for 45 games in a Hornets uniform, it is becoming painfully clear that Henry has only one NBA-caliber skill – attacking the paint and drawing contact. His 37% free throw rate is well above the 2011-12 average for shooting guards of 23.7%, which should bode well for his TS%. Unfortunately, it’s only 45%, well below the shooting guard average of 52.7%, indicating not only an inability to make jump shots, but also a low free throw percentage as well. Tack on below average passing and an inability to turn his athleticism into effective defense, and Henry has been quite a disappointment as a Hornet thus far.

13) Hakim Warrick, PF35 GP, 55% FTR, 13.6% DRR, 13.14 PER

Simply put, Warrick has some skills on offense, but his defense is so bad that it’s basically not even worth giving him minutes. His free throw rate is extremely good, but that’s about the only offensive stat that leaned in his favor last season. Despite the ability to get to the free throw line, his 50.3 TS% was still below the 53.0% league average for PFs, as was his defensive rebound rate (18.4% league average for PFs). Warrick’s PER clearly benefits from the fact that the metric, like most player-focused metrics, struggles to properly quantify defensive ability. Between that and Monty’s disdain for players who cannot contribute on defense, Warrick will likely spend the vast majority of his time in a Hornets uniform on the bench.


All included statistics were collected from


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