Mason Ginsberg -- Hornets247.com
In an odd scheduling quirk, the Hornets have only played five games so far in the season’s first 15 days. Who have been the most meaningful contributors to the team’s 3-2 start?
All season long, these player power rankings will be presented alongside various*“advanced stats”*in order to more accurately evaluate each Hornets player’s impact (click here for a glossary of the statistic abbreviations). In addition,*we also have created a chart*with the goal of standardizing advanced stat categories to distinguish the good numbers from the bad ones. Hopefully, these tools give each of you the means to comprehend the advanced statistical metrics used in these rankings as well as other columns throughout Hornets247.com.
1) Al-Farouq Aminu, SF*– 5 GP, 33.4 MPG, 53.8 eFG%, 14.4 TRR, 13.3 AR, 19.5% TOR, 17.6 PER
Through the Hornets’ first five games, it would be tough to argue that anyone on the team has been as consistent of a contributor as Aminu. I hardly expect him to stay atop this list for much longer, but for now, he is deserving of this ranking. He leads all non-guards on the team in assist rate and all non-big men in total rebound rate and PER. He has been the most well-rounded player on the team not named Anthony Davis, and has played more minutes than anyone on the team (167) apart from Vasquez (168).
2) Ryan Anderson, PF*– 5 GP, 32.8 MPG, 53.9 eFG%, 19.3% DRR, 8.2% TOR, 17.2 PER
As expected, Anderson’s shooting numbers have improved since his first week while maintaining his turnover and defensive rebound rate. Though Anderson’s DRR is only about average for NBA big men, he has historically been a sub-par defensive rebounder (under 17% for his career going into this season), so his average so far clearly indicates a step in the right direction. Expect his shooting numbers to continue to improve as well; he made 39.3% of his 3-pointers in each of the last two seasons, but he has only made 35.1% of them so far this year.
3) Anthony Davis, PF*– 3 GP, 26.7 MPG, 59.2 TS%, 16.6% TRR, 4.4% TOR, 34.0 PER
Despite his concussion limiting him to about half of the minutes he would have otherwise played so far, Davis is tied with Anderson for the team lead with .6 total win shares. In fact, out of all players with at least 50 minutes played, he leads the NBA in PER (according to ESPN). Not too bad for a rookie.
4) Robin Lopez, C*– 5 GP, 30.4 MPG, 9.2% ORR, 55.3 eFG%, 10.9% TOR, 17.6 PER
A pretty quiet couple of games combined with more positive strides from the three players above him push Lopez down to #4 this week. He made six out of his eleven shot attempts this week, but failed to make it to the free throw line at all. His rebound rates dropped off, but in his 58 minutes over the past two games, he committed zero turnovers and just two fouls. Overall, Lopez is doing a good job of taking what the defense gives him, but it would be nice to see him get more aggressive on the glass.
5) Jason Smith, PF*– 5*GP, 17 MPG, 67.1 TS%, 15.1% ORR, 27.5% USG, 28.8 PER
Smith keeps up his torrid pace despite more limited playing time than his production would warrant. That ESPN PER list that I said Anthony Davis topped? Smith is 6th. His turnover rate jumped up to 17% after a 4 turnover outing against the 76ers last Wednesday night, but he has performed impeccably in nearly every other area. His offensive rebound rate is elite, his true shooting percentage is out of this world, and he even leads the team in usage rate. The only reason he is as low as 5th on list is because of his lack of minutes, which is by no means his fault.
6) Greivis Vasquez, PG*– 5*GP, 33.6 MPG, 12.0% DRR, 44.0% AR, 18.0% TOR, 9.6 PER
Vasquez is a good example of the numbers not telling the entire story of a player’s performance. His poor PER is more a function of exceptionally poor shooting numbers; he hasn’t done a bad job of running this Hornets offense, especially given all of the team’s early season injuries. His assist rate and defensive rebound rates are both solid, and he has helped the team simply by being on the court, as there is a noticeable drop-off in talent after him on the depth chart at point guard. Given that this is his third season in the league, however, it would be nice to see his turnover rate start to improve.
7) Darius Miller, SF –*5*GP, 16.0 MPG, 53.8 eFG%, 23.5% TOR, 8.7 PER
In the past two games, Miller has taken his effective field goal percentage from 30% to 53.8%, a number much more in line with what we can expect from him. He has also slightly reduced his turnover rate (though still quite high), but his assist rate has come back down to Earth. Another nice stat to see is his defensive rating of 98, placing him ahead of every player below him in these rankings. Overall, Miller has looked like a strong mid-second round pick, proving that he will ultimately be able to fill a role as a decent rotation player.
8) Brian Roberts, PG*–*5*GP, 11.8 MPG, 52.4 TS%, 39.0% AR, 10.4% TOR, 17.3 PER
I don’t want to give Roberts an unfair boost after only one good game, but when you look at the competition below him, it would be difficult not to bump him up at least for now. Against Charlotte on Friday night, Roberts scored 16 points on just 8 shots with 8 assists and only 1 turnover in just under 30 minutes of action (which, coincidentally, is the same amount of total minutes he had under his belt in the Hornets’ first four games). Therefore, it should come as no surprise to see his PER sitting pretty at 17.3. Anything remotely close to this kind of production from Roberts on a regular basis would be an unexpectedly pleasant surprise.
9)*Austin Rivers, G*–*4*GP, 29.3 MPG,*30.2 TS%, 18.5% AR, 2.2 PER
Rivers missed one of this week’s two games with an injured thumb, but the game in which he did play was in line with what we have seen from him so far – 2 for 7 from the field with two of those misses coming from long range, 4 assists, and 2 turnovers. That game was not a strong one by any stretch, watching the Hornets against Philly without him showed how important his ball-handling is to the team (though not exactly irreplaceable at this point).
10) Roger Mason, SG – 5 GP, 19.4 MPG, 57.3 TS%, 4.6% TRR, 6.4% AR, 13.0% TOR, 6.6 PER
Mason’s shooting percentages are the only stats helping to keep his PER above zero at this point. His rebound and assist rates are both awful, and his turnover rate is too high for a player who is supposed to be filling the role of spot-up shooter. To be fair, he had to take on a bigger role against the 76ers last Wednesday due to lack of serviceable guards, but he has still played very poorly overall.
11) Xavier Henry, SG*-*3 GP, 8.3 MPG, 42.9 eFG%, 12.7% DRR, 7.3 PER
Henry’s numbers are largely in line with what we’ve become used to from him, but he has only played 25 minutes so far this season, so it would be best to give him a little more playing time before passing any real judgment on his season to date.
12) Lance Thomas, PF – 2 GP, 6.5 MPG, -2.2 PER
Still not enough opportunities for Lance to give him a fair analysis. With Warrick gone, maybe he’ll get a couple more minutes, but the way Jason Smith has played, those minutes should really go to him.
NR) Eric Gordon, SG; Matt Carroll, SG
All statistical data obtained from*Basketball Reference.