Charlotte Hornets Player Power Rankings Part II

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Welcome back to Part II of the 2014-15 Charlotte Hornets Trade Value Power Rankings! You can find Part I here.

Tier III: I’m listening, but we are trying to win this year, so…

11. Marvin Williams

Apr 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Utah Jazz forward Marvin Williams (2) looks on against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Jazz 130-102. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt, Williams was the most difficult Hornet to place in the power rankings. The Hornets brought Williams in from Utah this summer on a two-year, $14 million contract with the purpose of filling the void left by Josh McRoberts. Williams is not a mirror-image of McRoberts, who was the high-post connect-the-dots player fueling Steve Clifford’s offense last season. Williams is more of a hybrid forward who has spent most of his career on the wing. Williams is an improving three-point threat, and has been a steady, though not great, defender and rebounder throughout his career.

Is Marvin more valuable on the court than Gerald Henderson? Probably not. Henderson knows the system and is much more dynamic. I would argue that Henderson is more valuable in the locker room as well. But Henderson plays at a loaded position while Williams is one of five big men on the roster, and the likely opening day starter at power forward. I do not see the Hornets trading away their most established power forward option if they could trade away a similarly talented guard instead. Now, if Cody Zeller establishes himself as the everyday starter and Noah Vonleh proves he can provide back-up minutes, then the story on Marvin changes. But until then, Marvin is simply too valuable to trade, unless the price is right, of course.

Mar 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard P.J. Hairston (15) puts up a shot against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second half during the third round of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

10. P.J. Hairston

The Hornets’ second Tar Heel checks in at number ten. Originally drafted 26th overall by the Miami Heat, the Hornets traded for Hairston for one clear reason: to make it rain from three. Hairston has been ready to shoot since he learned how to hold a basketball, and has demonstrated the ability to get on fire from deep in college and the D-League.

I can’t talk about P.J.’s value to the team without mentioning his off-court issues. Yes, P.J. has a turbulent history with the law, questionable friends and an uncanny ability to get in trouble for ridiculous things, like punching a teenager in the head while playing pick-up ball at the YMCA. And it is far too early to say such juvenile behavior is a thing of the past. What I can say is that P.J.’s development into a rotation player means a lot to the future of the franchise. At the very least, P.J. can be a “heat check” guy who comes in and shoots five or six threes a game. But, if he develops under Coach Clifford, P.J. could slide into the starting lineup if Lance Stephenson decides to leave town after his three-year deal expires. Considering his rookie contract is for less than $1 million a season, P.J. is an incredibly valuable asset, especially if he develops into a solid rotation player.

9. 2016 First Round Draft Pick

Why rank a completely unknown commodity above actual players, including a 2014 first round draft pick? Because the potential of landing a franchise-changing player, even in the latter part of the first round, is the easiest way a team can improve quickly on the cheap. For franchises attempting to rebuild, like the 76ers, first round draft picks are the gold standard. For teams building for championships, a first round pick is a trade chip for pulling in talent from lesser teams in re-build mode.

The balancing act for the Hornets this season is how to treat known players against the unknown. If the Boston Celtics were interested in moving Rajon Rondo, I would prefer the Hornets include the 2016 first round pick rather than Cody Zeller. We learned enough about Zeller last season to know he is a competent reserve power forward at worst. On the other hand, I would prefer to keep this pick rather than P.J. Hairston because P.J.’s off-court issues increase his risk.

Trading first round picks is always a dangerous wager. Teams simply can’t predict the future. We all think the Hornets will be better in two years than they are today, leaving the 2016 pick in the 20s. But if the Hornets face injuries, chemistry issues or other unforeseen personnel issues and find themselves a lottery team in 2016, this first round pick will be an essential building block.