A great pickup from Sports Illustrated this evening, they have just run their Top-100 players in the NBA. Three Hornets made the cut into the Top-100 compiled by Zach Lowe. The list is a combination of tireless and arduous work on the part of Lowe, and for most of it I agree.
So without further adieu here’s who made the cut!
- No. 69: Emeka Okafor
2010-11 Stats: 10.3 PPG, 57.3 FG%, 56.2 FT%, 9.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 1.8 BLK
Okafor is a bit of mooch, in an endearing way, on offense: He’s dependent on Chris Paul to find him on cuts and pick-and-rolls, or to draw so much attention from defenses that no one is there to block him out. He’ll post up now and then, but he’s not an elite back-to-the-basket force.
Okafor’s defense is what really gets him this ranking, though. Opponents shot just 20-of-80 against him in isolation and just 82-of-203 (40 percent) on post-ups – elite numbers, per Synergy. At 6-foot-10, he’s not a disruptive pick-and-roll defender on the level of Dwight Howard orTyson Chandler, but he’s a force of a different kind.
- No. 31: David West
2010-11 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 50.8 FG%, 80.7 FT%, 7.6 RPG, 2.3 APG
West’s ugly knee injury, which cost him the final month of last season, did not really affect his ranking. He should be able to recover just fine, and explosiveness hasn’t been a huge part of his game for years. West is like an anti-Josh Smith – totally unspectacular, but spectacularly reliable.
He’s a pick-and-pop beast on offense. He also ranked among the league’s top 50 in points per possession last season on both isolations and post-up chances, according to Synergy. He’ll function well without Paul, if it comes to that, though perhaps not quite as well. West is unselfish and a good passer.
- No. 6: Chris Paul
2010-11 Stats: 15.9 PPG, 46.3 FG%, 38.8 3PT%, 9.8 APG, 4.1 RPG, 2.4 STL
Scour this blog and you won’t find a single reference to any other player as the league’s greatest point guard, not even while Rose was running away with the MVP. Even easing his way back from a serious knee injury, Paul led all point guards in PER and proved with a couple of masterpieces in the postseason that no point man can match his combination of deadeye shooting, patience, vision and defense.
He is knocking on the 50-40-90 door (50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the line), and the idea of Paul’s morphing into a Nash-level shooter should terrify the league because it will make him even more dangerous and lengthen his career by allowing him to pick his spots for drives to the hoop. He shot the ball better than Rose from all over the court, and he shot it less often, opting to involve his teammates more. Rose supporters will point out that Chicago’s middling supporting cast forced the MVP to shoot more. But I look at the Hornets’ lineup, and I see Marco Belinelli, Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, and I wonder how they ever scored enough to win. Paul was the reason. He knows how – and where, and when – to create the best looks for each of his teammates.
A great pickup from Rohan over on At The Hive for this one.
My two-cents, it’s great to see Okafor on the list, and hopefully some of you guys can appreciate Okafor’s defensive work from the statistics given. It also scares me to see West listed as 32 years old, in a lot of ways it makes me not want to re-sign him, then I realise we don’t have much of anything else in the way of a Robin to Paul being Batman.
The italicized and bold-ed part in the Paul excerpt is something to take away and throw in the face of Chicago Bull fans. This is the reason he’s the best point-guard in the league, thank you very much.
So what do you make of the list? We might need more players from the Top-100 to help Chris Paul out, hey?