By the numbers: CP3 scoring less, team winning more

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

With the Hornets (19-17) enjoying a rare full off day – with no game or practice scheduled – here’s a look at a few telling numbers related to the team’s rotation members.

New Orleans’ six-game winning streak came to an end in Philadelphia, but the Hornets are 5-1 this month, with three more games this week against sub-.500 opponents. We’ll have more in the blog about Wednesday’s game and opposition, the Los Angeles Clippers (17-18), tomorrow morning after shootaround in the New Orleans Arena.

STARTERS
Chris Paul
: 17.1
The fifth-year point guard’s scoring average since he returned from an ankle injury on Dec. 4. Prior to his injury, he averaged 23.8 points over his first 10 games of the regular season. The Hornets started the season 3-7 (.300 winning percentage) with Paul in uniform, but since his Dec. 4 return they are 12-6 (.667 winning percentage). What does it mean? The gradual improvement by several other rotation players shows New Orleans now doesn’t need CP3 to generate huge scoring numbers in order to be competitive.
Devin Brown: 41.0
The shooting guard’s three-point percentage this season, the best he’s shot from beyond the arc in his eight-year NBA career. His 28.9 percentage from three-point range last season was the worst rate of his pro career (not counting seasons in which he took fewer than 15 treys). In an offense where two All-Stars draw considerable attention, Brown realizes he will get open looks on the perimeter when the Hornets rotate the ball to the weakside.
Peja Stojakovic: 29.2
The small forward’s average minutes per game in 2009-10. During the ’09 offseason, former Hornets coach Byron Scott listed Stojakovic as one of the players he’d like to see get reduced minutes, in order to give the 32-year-old additional rest. The Hornets have done so, decreasing Stojakovic’s playing time by 5.0 minutes per game compared to 2008-09. It’s his lowest average minutes per game since 1999-00, Stojakovic’s second NBA season.
David West: +2.9
The difference between the power forward’s scoring average in the 28 games Chris Paul has played (West has scored 18.2 per game) and the eight games in which CP3 did not play (West scored 15.3 per game). Obviously, West gets better looks at the basket when his fellow two-time All-Star is on the court. West took only slightly more shots from the field per game without CP3 (15.1 FGAs) than he has with CP3 (14.9 FGAs), but the results have been noticeably different.
Emeka Okafor: 211
The number of consecutive games he’s played in, dating back to the end of 2006-07 season. The player he was traded for, Tyson Chandler, missed 37 games to injury last season and has not played this season since Dec. 22. Chandler has appeared in 25 of the Bobcats’ first 35 games.
RESERVES
Darius Songaila
: 10
Times he’s logged 20-plus minutes in a game since Nov. 14. Prior to that, he had zero games in which he played 20 minutes or more. Songaila’s role has expanded considerably since the early portion of the season. He’s eaten up all of the backup frontcourt minutes, with Sean Marks and Ike Diogu injured, and Hilton Armstrong dealt yesterday to Sacramento.
James Posey: 50.0
His January shooting percentage from the field and three-point arc. The 6-foot-8 forward's timely perimeter shooting has been one potentially overlooked aspect of New Orleans’ excellent performance in recent weeks.
Marcus Thornton: 8
Through Jan. 10, the total number of times in which 2009 NBA second-round draft picks had tallied 20 points or more in a 2009-10 regular season game. Thornton had four of those performances by himself (Memphis’ Sam Young and Detroit’s Jonas Jerebko had the others). The LSU product’s minutes are back on the upswing lately and he’s tallied double-digit scoring the past two games.
Darren Collison: 30
Consecutive games in which he appeared, prior to missing Monday’s loss in Philadelphia due to injury. Early in the season, the UCLA product was out of the rotation. Along the way, he started eight games from Nov. 14 through Dec. 1 when Paul was sidelined.
Julian Wright: 8.3
Minutes per game he’s played (over nine appearances) since rejoining the rotation on Dec. 23 vs. Golden State. Jeff Bower has said recently that he hopes to be able to expand Wright’s contributions and role in the rotation.