Hornets Power Rankings Week Four

Published: November 21, 2010

Because of the trade just made, this will be the last time we see Peja or Bayless on our weekly power rankings, but we will always remember the gifts they brought us back via trade. Their generous gift of Jack and increased flexibility will not be forgotten, so we thank them. And with that, on to the rankings:

1. Chris Paul 17.5 PPG, 10.2 APG, 2.8 SPG, 52 FG%, 52 3PT%, 29.2 PER

You have to start to wonder how many wins it will take by the Hornets for Paul to really have a chance for MVP. It is looking more and more like CP3 will hover around 18 and 10 this season, which is great, but he did not win MVP when he was a 21 and 11 guy, so if voters make decisions based on stats there will be several other guys with more impressive numbers. From a pure “value” standpoint, however, I don’t think any team in the league relies more on a single player. Oklahoma City just won two straight road games without Durant, the Lakers have done fine over the years without Kobe, and Miami or Boston would get by without one of their big 3 (or 4). Getting Jack makes me feel better about New Orleans if CP3 were to miss a few games, but in the end this team goes as CP3 goes.

2. David West 17.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 52.6 FG%, 21.6 PER

There will be five or six games this year where David West just carries the offense like he did Friday night against Cleveland, and for a team that is so focused on defense, that trait is huge. If we were to nitpick, we could still say that West jogs up the court a majority of the time and his post defense is far from exceptional, but he has cut down on making the plays that kill you. In years past he would make awful decisions when doubled in the post or make lazy passes around the perimeter that lead to fast breaks; he doesn’t do that anymore. He is simply a quasi elite level scorer from certain areas on the court who doesn’t do anything to really hurt the team. The next test will be to see if he can raise his game come playoff time.

3. Emeka Okafor 11.3 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 60 FG%, 18.3 PER

Okafor has made some outstanding blocks around the rim this year and has been holding his ground on the defensive side of the court. The thing that I am most impressed by with Okafor is the lack of bad fouls he has picked up this year. When he commits a foul he usually gets his money’s worth. He is not fouling guys on pick and rolls 25 feet from the basket or getting called for fouls while fighting for position in the post, etc. It sounds like a small thing, but the Hornets are better off letting opponents shoot from the perimeter than from the foul line. If Okafor is off the court, then guys like Jason Smith or David Anderson will be in and those guys own the legal rights for bad fouls, so he has to be out there as much as possible for the Hornets to keep opponents to 90-93 PPG.

4. Marco Belinelli 12.7 PPG, 43% 3Pt, 47.5% FG

Out with the Peja heads, in with the Belinelli Testas (head in Italian). Guy is lights out from deep and could end up having a season very similar to Peja’s in 07-08 from deep. That year Peja took an average of seven three pointers a game and nailed three of them. In the last three wins, Belinelli has taken an average of 6 three pointers and nailed 3.7 while averaging 18.3 PPG.

5. Willie Green 8.6 PPG, 81% FT, 15 Points per 36 mins

Can’t say enough about this guy and I am sure most will rank Ariza higher based on minutes per game times PER divided by how many dribbles he takes on the left side of the floor minus number of Gatorade’s he drank per game minus how many other colors are superior to green. My eyes tell me something different. The guy changes games when he comes into them and steadies the second unit. When he is not on the floor, he is the ML Carr of the bench- always the first one up after a big play, cheering the other guys on, etc. He is in Pondexter’s ear, showing him the ropes, and he slows down the other teams best scorer on the defensive end. Point blank, he and Belinelli have taken the 2 guard position from the Hornets biggest weakness to one of their biggest strengths.

6. Trevor Ariza 10.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 50% FG in Clutch Time (last 5 mins of game)

Ariza had a great hustle play Friday night, and if that play would have happened in a huge playoff game it would have been one we would all be talking about for years. Unfortunately these moments have been few and far between this season, as it is much more often the case that Ariza just disappears for minutes at a time. He does his part on the offensive end, but even there I see him taking plays off, as Jamario Moon could have had 3-4 ally-oops if Cleveland had a point guard that actually looked up when he dribbled. Not knocking the guy, I just expect more and perhaps come playoff time he will turn it on. Maybe that is why Houston just unloaded him for practically nothing; maybe he only gets up for big games and since Houston didn’t make the playoffs last year, they never got to see Super Ariza.

7. Jason Smith 6.8 PPG, 1 foul committed every 6 minutes

I expect Smith to give this spot up to Jack in the next few weeks, but for now he is safe. Guy can hit from 15-17, the guy hustles and surprises you by coming out of nowhere to snatch a board, but the guy also picks up some horrible fouls and that might just be because he really hasn’t played that much in the NBA. Over time, guys find ways to give little cheap shots and use some tricks to avoid getting the foul calls, and maybe Smith will be a quick learner. For now, we just have to be happy with Smith as our best backup big and hope Demps can get someone more rugged in the months to come.

8. Peja Stojakovic 7.5 PPG, 44% 3 Pt, contract helped us get Jack

Ah, Peja. So many fine memories, so many clutch threes. I will try to forgive your massive contract, because that wasn’t your fault. I will not forget your magical 07-08 that was a huge reason the Hornets won 56 and almost reached the WCF. Thanks for everything and good luck in Toronto and wherever you land in February.

9. Jerryd Bayless 4.5 PPG, averaged 1 turnover and 1 foul every 8 minutes

3 decent games against 3 horrible teams. 8 horrible performances in the other games. That will sum up your brief stint as a Hornet. And fans, don’t get mad when Bayless starts scoring in bunches for the Raptors- his game is made for that. Remember when Mike James scored 20.4 PPG for a bad Toronto team? We might see something close in Bayless, but make no mistake, he was not a good fit here.

10. Marcus Thornton 7.3 PPG, 4th on team in Points per 40 minutes

Because I still give MT5 credit for two early wins, I have him ranked at 10 despite being inactive the past week and a half, but Pondexter, Jack, and perhaps even Anderson will pass him soon.

11. Quincy Pondexter 2.8 PPG, 50% FG, 50% 3 Pt

The rookie has put on some muscle and seems to be letting the game come to him. Often times rookies are so eager to prove themselves that they play out of control, but Pondexter looks good out there and he should get a steady diet of 10-15 MPG now that Peja is gone.

12. DJ Mbenga-  Leads team in blocks per 36 mins

I actually didn’t hate his defense on Dirk and I wouldn’t just assume David Anderson takes the backup Center job for DJ. Anderson and J Smitty are too similar, so Mbenga might hold onto the job for a little longer.

13. Pops Mensah-Bonsu- Leads team in fouls per minute (by a LARGE margin)

The infamous “Jersey Foul” (New MTV show??) might be all that Hornets fans remember once Pops’ stint is done here. I know our boy ‘rm’ has been trying to let us know how good this guy is, but Pops has been trying his hardest to prove otherwise.

14. Aaron Gray- Tallest Guy yet to suit up for Hornets

Guy almost always wears a gray suit to the game. Glad his name isn’t Aaron Lavender.


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