Today's a Free Agency themed day across the network -- specifically, team blogs are evaluating how their summer signings are performing thus far.
The Hornets of course made two relatively large additions via free agency -- no offense meant to Brian Roberts or Roger Mason Jr. -- in Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez. So today, a quick glance at how the duo has done.
The most common knock on Anderson was that he wouldn't be able to get it done without Dwight Howard or, indeed, with defenses focused in on him as a primary option. The first few months of the season have both supported and opposed that notion.
When Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis were sidelined, Anderson showed that despite his size and a great stepback jumper, his dribbling limits him from being a true creative first option. And that's not too much of a surprise, given it's not a role he'd been asked to play in Orlando or, before that, at California.
But despite an increased usage (23% vs. 21% last year) and a corresponding drop in efficiency as one might expect (+12 vs +19 last year), he's also shown that he doesn't need great players around him or a strong perimeter oriented system to be absolutely deadly from distance. He's made a habit of knocking down threes with very little airspace to elevate or land, and despite playing a bench role on a abysmal team (thus far), he's still on pace to challenge the all-time three pointers made in a season record.
Toss in his slightly-recovered defensive rebounding rate and exceptionally low turnover rate, and this easily has to go down as one of the top signings of the summer.
Lopez has been the most polarizing Hornet this side of Greivis Vasquez in 2012-13.
Dissociating his poor defensive rebound rate (which has improved marginally of late) from the team's overall failures on the defensive glass was a tough task in the early season, with low DRB% figures fueling very poor defensive efficiency. Now, though, New Orleans is 11th overall on the defensive glass and rising, especially with the return of Al-Farouq Aminu.
And that allows us to appreciate the things he's doing on offense. It's often ugly, sure, but Lopez's +10 offensive efficiency differential ranks 4th among the league's 30 starting centers. (For the record, number 1 is Tyson Chandler at... +36). Lopez continues to crash the offensive glass well, he's passing better than he ever has (doubling his assist rate from a year ago), and despite the frequency with which teammates force him the ball in awkward situations, his turnover rate is more than manageable.
Defensively, the Hornets are terrible, sure, but as we've discussed many times, this is largely a function of pathetic perimeter defense. New Orleans ranks 4th worst in the league in terms of the three point percentage allowed, and 5th worst at shots taken from 16-23 feet. Move in closer, and the Hornets are in the league's top-10 for shots allowed around the rim. It wouldn't be too difficult to make the case that Lopez has outperformed Anthony Davis defensively so far, and even if that says more about Davis than it does about Lopez, the latter has more than done his part in Monty Williams' scheme.
To top it all off, New Orleans structured Lopez's contract in a way that allows them to drop him this summer at no extra or future cost. If this keeps up though, that somehow seems unlikely.