NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - When Chris Hagan messaged me this morning about putting together a top-10 list of the best players to play NBA ball here in New Orleans, I thought, that’ll be easy.
What I failed to realize is that the top six are easy. The final four, too close to call. Frankly, there’s not a lot of NBA history in the Crescent City. Still, the show must go on so here’s my list.
1. Chris Paul (2005-2011)
Yes, CP3 over Anthony Davis for me because of one simple reason. The NBA is still a point guard league. They have the ball in their hands all the time. And no one has been better with the ball in his hands in New Orleans, than Chris Paul was.
He averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds and two steals during his six seasons here. And again, the offense didn’t go unless Paul pressed the pedal.
2. Anthony Davis (2012-2019)
Any other day, Anthony Davis would’ve been tops on the list. 24 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks makes him the most dominant player the franchise has ever had.
But, I still think he is the robin to batman. As in, without a solid point guard getting him the ball, Davis’ numbers wouldn’t be where they are.
3. David West (2003-2011)
One of my favorite players of all time, David West was Mr. Consistency from the elbow. The former college basketball player of the year took a couple of seasons to get going. But, he found his comfort zone in year three, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds per game. he’d go on to average 17 and at least 8 rebounds in his final six seasons here.
4. Baron Davis (2002-2005)
Before Chris Paul arrived on the scene, Baron Davis was the bees-knees. He was the face of a franchise that was still making the playoffs as an eastern conference team.
Davis averaged 16 points and nearly 7 assists per game in the short time he was here, just over two seasons. His one negative for me, the way he exited New Orleans, forcing the team to trade him to Golden St. in 2004.
5. Jamal Mashburn (2002-2005)
Silky smooth Jamal Mashburn was as pure a shooter that the Hornets ever had. If only this dude had better knees. That’s what brought his career to an end just as he was hitting his prime at 31 years of age.
Mash only played two seasons in New Orleans, but those two seasons were some of his best as a pro, averaging 21 points per game. And that 2002-03 season saw him play a career high 82 games.
6. Jrue Holiday (2013-present)
Jrue Holiday could move up this list in the years to come, as long as he continues to play at the level he’s currently playing at. And, as long as the team keeps him on the roster.
Jrue has gotten better the longer he’s been in the Crescent City. Averaging 17 points per game here. But, it’s in the many other areas that set him apart. Jrue prides himself on being a guard that can do a little bit of everything. He scores, handles the ball, defends at the point of attack and most times, the opposing teams best offensive players, no matter the disadvantage he facing (...Kevin Durant, Lebron James).
7. Tyson Chandler (2006-2009)
Before Anthony Davis, there was Tyson Chandler. Tyson was the teams first true rim protector and he came with a bit of a mean streak.
He led the NBA in offensive rebounds in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons. And he ranked second in rebounds per game in that 2006 season and third overall in 2007
He was also great around the rim, making 62-percent of his shots from the field in both the 2006 and 2007 season.
But, the biggest selling point for me is, when trouble happened. When one of the Hornets players got pushed around, Chandler was always there to the rescue. The ultimate team player that looked out for his teammates well being.
8. Peja Stojakovic (2006-2011)
When Peja arrived in New Orleans on 2006, his best days were behind him and nagging injuries were in front of him. But, his pure stroke never went away.
That night in November of 2006 when Peja put on a shooting clinic, becoming the first player in league history to open the game with 20 points for his team.
The following season, he started all 77 games and helped the Hornets to a franchise-record 56-wins and their first ever division title.
Bottom line, Peja stands for Pure and when his shot came down, it was always wet before it went through the hoop.
9. David Wesley (2002-2005)
We didn’t know it then but, David Wesley’s two seasons in New Orleans were the beginning of his careers downturn.
Yes, he averaged 15 points in his two seasons as a Hornet here, but, that was down from the 17 ppg he average just two seasons prior.
Still, one of the grittiest players the franchise has ever had and he deserves to be on this list.
10. P.J. Brown (2002-2006)
Mr. Reliable, P.J. Brown belongs in the top 10 because there was nothing that he wouldn’t do to help the Hornets get a win.
Most of his work was done in the low block. Brown was a hard hat, lunch pail kind of player that had a consistent jumper from the elbow to keep a defender honest. A consistent 10 point, 8 rebound guy, P.J. Brown was a throw back, 80′s style of player that the league could use more of today. Just always gave the team an honest nights work.
So there’s my list. What do ya think?