The beginning of the 2010s for the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans was the end of the Chris Paul Hornets era. After one starless season, the Hornets started a new chapter: seven seasons of Anthony Davis. However, both Paul and Davis decided to jet off to LA LA Land. Fortunately for Pelicans fans, the luck of the NBA Draft was in the Pelicans’ favor. With the 2019 number one overall draft pick, Zion Williamson went to New Orleans.
New Orleans Pelicans Best from the 2010s
Recapping the 2010s
Over the last 10 years, the Hornets/Pelicans had three above-.500 seasons. With the exception of the Davis saga, the organization had stability. Monty Williams and Alvin Gentry have been the franchise’s only two coaches over the last decade. The final season for Williams was 2014-15, which ended in a first-round exit.
The Pelicans then took a step back for Genry’s first two years in NOLA. However, his team had an impressive 2017-18. They tied for the fourth-best record in the Western Conference at 48-34. The fast-paced 2018 Pelicans swept the Portland Trail Blazers for their first sweep in franchise history.
However, just one year later, Davis made a mess in New Orleans and played just 56 games for the Pelicans. The team went 33-49, the team’s worse performance since 2012-13. The Pelicans then jumped their winning percentage up from .402 last season to .438 in 2020. With Williamson, the Pelicans have gone 10-9 this season.
New Orleans Pelicans All-Decade Team Starting Five
Guard – Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday, the franchise leader in three-pointers, has been a very important part of the Pelicans since the organization acquired him in 2013. The former McDonald’s All-American has been on the All-Defensive team twice. He is also in the top-20 among active players in steals.
In his last four full seasons in New Orleans, Holiday has played at least 65 games. His career-high in scoring came in 2018-19 when he scored 21.2 points per game. That was a huge improvement from his 14.3 points per game in 2013-14.
Due to the Western Conference’s high saturation of All-Star guards, Holiday has been unable to get an All-Star nod during his career with the Pelicans. His only career All-Star Game appearance was in 2013, his last year with the Philadelphia 76ers.
However, since Holiday has made his way to New Orleans, he has made a name for himself. In just seven seasons, he has become the franchise leader in field goals and rebounds among guards. He made this all-decade team because he is the longest-tenured Pelican. He is also the best guard among those who have played several seasons with the team in the 2010s.
Guard – Chris Paul
Chris Paul was part of just one New Orleans Hornets playoff team in the 2010s. However, he gets the nod for the all-decade team starting lineup because he was the team leader at the beginning of the decade.
In just six seasons with the New Orleans (and Oklahoma City due to Hurricane Katrina) Hornets, Paul became – and still is – the franchise leader in assists and steals. He was drafted by the Hornets fourth overall in 2005, and he won the Rookie of the Year.
He dished out a franchise-best 9.9 assists per game. Paul is also the NBA’s active leader in assists per game. According to Basketball-Reference, Paul has the best Offensive Rating in NBA history (a statistic that has been measured since 1977-78). He also has the second-best assist percentage in NBA history.
He was an All-Star in each of his last four seasons with the Hornets. During those four seasons, he led the league in steals three times and assists twice. However, all good times must come to an end, and his Hornets tenure was cut short. During the 2011 NBA lockout, the league-owned Hornets traded him for three players, including all-decade team bench guard Eric Gordon.
Forward – Anthony Davis
The franchise leader in field goals, free throws, rebounds, blocks, and points is none other than the best Hornet and Pelican big man in team history, Anthony Davis. He was by far the best player for the franchise during the past decade. He was an All-Star from his second season all the way to his final year with the Pelicans, 2018-19.
During his time in New Orleans, he spent three years each atop the leaderboard in blocks per game and in shots made inside the three-point arc. He came into the league attempting single-digit three-pointers per game, but he has evolved himself into a decent shooter from downtown. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, his late 20’s will be spent with the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, during his time in NOLA, he earned numerous accolades. Davis was a two-time player of the month and a five-time player of the week. He also had a league-best Player Efficiency Rating in 2014-15, the same year he made his first postseason. Although 2015 ended in a sweep at the hands of the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, Davis used that playoff experience to lead the sweep of the Blazers in 2018. The series was highlighted by The Brow’s playoff career-best 47 points on 15-of-23 shooting.
Davis was a tremendous player while in New Orleans. However, after demanding a trade at the 2019 trade deadline and sitting out games near the end of the 2018-19 season, he appeared to have overstayed his welcome. On July 6, 2019, he was a part of a blockbuster three-team trade that brought a package that included Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and draft picks to the Pelicans.
Forward – Ryan Anderson
Davis is joined by Ryan Anderson on the all-decade team because Anderson made a strong impact during his four years in New Orleans. The Hornets acquired Anderson the same year that Davis was drafted, and the power forward out of California hit the ground running with his new team.
After leading the NBA in three-pointers in his final year with the Orlando Magic in 2011-12, he increased his three-pointers made by 47 in his first year with the Hornets. Although his career-high 213 made shots from beyond the arc did not lead the league that year, he still is in the top 60 all-time in made threes.
Unfortunately for Anderson and the new-name Pelicans, his 2013-14 season was cut short due to a herniated disk in his back. He played just 22 games that year but did have a career-high three made three-pointers per game. During the next season, he bounced back to be a large part of the Pelicans’ playoff run. Although it fell short, he scored a playoff career-high 26 points in Game Three of the first-round series against the Warriors.
During the 2016 offseason, New Orleans did not want to pay for a shooter that had some injury issues and was approaching his 30’s. On July 9, 2016, Anderson signed his first NBA deal as a free agent. He ended up making almost $40 million for 138 games with the Houston Rockets from 2016 to 2018 after collecting $34 million from the Pelicans for 230 contests.
Center – DeMarcus Cousins
Although DeMarcus Cousins played just 65 games in a Pelicans uniform, he averaged 25 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. Both stats are the most in Pelicans’ history. He also averaged five assists per game, the most all-time for any Pelicans center. For those reasons, he rounds out the starting lineup for the Pelicans all-decade team.
Near the 2017 trade deadline, the Pelicans acquired Cousins from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for a package that included Tyreke Evans and rookie Buddy Hield. He made the All-Star Game in both seasons in New Orleans. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, the oft-injured Cousins was unsurprisingly injured during his time in NOLA.
He played just 48 games during the 2017-18 season and did not dress in any of the team’s nine postseason games due to a ruptured Achilles. Then after having a surprisingly bare free-agent market, Cousins signed with the Golden State Warriors for just over $5 million. There remain many questions about what Cousins’ Pelicans career could have been if he had stayed healthy to help Davis take on the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs in 2018.
New Orleans Pelicans All-Decade Team Bench
Guard – Tyreke Evans
Sandwiched between Evans’ stints in Sacramento was a good – albeit short – career with the Pelicans deserving of an all-decade team bench spot. After spending his first four seasons with the Kings, the Pelicans acquired him in a three-team trade. He made an impact right away.
His first season was 2013-14, and he had one of the highest usage percentages in the league. He made his presence known that season by being one of the better passers in the NBA. He ranked 16th in assist percentage that season.
Then, the following year, Evans turned up his shooting and was one of the league leaders in field goals made. He once again ranked among the best in assist percentage, but his turnovers and missed shots were a cause of concern. On the bright side, he had just six turnovers in his first career playoff series. He also was three assists away from a triple-double in Game Two of the series.
Guard – Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon has become such a large part of Houston’s recent successes that some people forget that he played elsewhere. He played three years with the Los Angeles Clippers and five years with New Orleans before playing with the Rockets.
In late 2011, the Hornets acquired Gordon from the Clippers in a package for Chris Paul. Knee and back injuries shortened Gordon’s first season with the Hornets, as he played just nine games. Then during the following year, doctors advised him to avoid back-to-back games. Still, he showed some promise, as he averaged 17 points per game. Gordon also saw the beginning of an upward trajectory in his three-point shooting.
Although he was not taking as many 3’s as he is now in the league, he increased his 3-point percentage from .324 in 2012-13 to .448 in 2014-15, which ranked second in the NBA (Kyle Korver .492). He then continued to shoot more 3-pointers the following season, but although his 3-point percentage dipped, he has since become a large part of NBA’s new 3-point shooting era.
Forward – Brandon Ingram
Ingram appeared in his first All-Star Game in his first season with the Pelicans. He also has been one of the best scorers in the game since being traded from the Lakers. Although he has been with the Pelicans for a short time, his first 56 games with the team have been very impressive.
He ranks 13th in the NBA in point per game, and he has made the 14th-most free throws in the league. The fourth-year player out of Duke is just 22 years old and still improving. As the 2016 second overall pick, he is on his way to living up to his expectations.
He is a large part of why the 2019-20 Pelicans are seventh in the league in effective field goal percentage and among the best in 3-point shooting. Ingram leads the team in scoring, and he has begun to get some help from his partner-in-crime, who is the other all-decade team bench forward: Zion Williamson.
Forward – Zion Williamson
The savior of the franchise may be the man, the myth, the legend: Zion Williamson. His almost 24 points per game in his first 19 career NBA really jump off the page. Williamson’s explosive rebounding style on a 285-pound frame impresses everyone as he wreaks havoc on the boards.
His shooting percentages are also strong, and even when he misses, there is a good chance he is rebounding his own miss. His unwillingness to surrender against players more than six inches taller than him allows him to body them up and push them out of the way without fouling.
Zion has already had some unforgettable performances, but one that most people remember is the time he outscored LeBron James in a loss to the Lakers. Zion scored a career-best 35 points on 12-of-16 shooting. We are anticipating many more performances similar to that one in future years.
Center – Ömer Aşık
Ömer Aşık, a consistent presence in the key for a couple of years for the New Orleans Pelicans, was a part of the 2015 playoff run. The 2014-15 season was coincidentally his first season with the Pelicans, as he was acquired from the Rockets in a three-team trade on July 15, 2014. Asik spent more than three seasons with the Pelicans, and although his statistics were not spectacular, his playoff experience helped a New Orleans team that needed it.
He was an impressive rebounder for the Pelicans during his time in New Orleans. He showcased his propensity to fight for the boards as he ranked high in every type of rebounding percentage. After the 2014-15 season, he signed a multi-year contract with the Pelicans, but he played just 113 games over the course of the next three and a half years before being traded back to the Chicago Bulls.