The New Orleans Pelicans franchise — which was called the New Orleans Hornets from 2002 to 2013 and also held the title of New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets due to the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina — has only had two Hall of Fame talents suit up for the club.
Chris Paul and Anthony Davis established themselves as all-time greats before requesting trades out of New Orleans. Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers before the start of the 2011-12 lockout season, while Davis was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2019.
The Pelicans are one of the few NBA teams still searching for its first championship. With Zion Williamson now in the Big Easy in the post-Davis era, New Orleans fans are hopeful that a championship will arrive to the city soon.
Despite the Pelicans’ lack of success since becoming a pro team back in 2002, there have been some talented players who have played for the club other than Paul and Davis. However, fans sometimes forget about them for a number of reasons.
With that said, we take a look at the five best New Orleans players whose names have been forgotten about in recent years.
1. Chris Kaman
Chris Kaman played one season for the Pelicans franchise during the 2011-12 lockout season. The club was still the Hornets at the time. New Orleans acquired him from the Clippers in the Paul trade.
Kaman averaged 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 78.5 percent from the free-throw line.
In the summer of 2012, Kaman signed a free-agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
2. Desmond Mason
A vicious dunker in his prime, Desmond Mason put up 12.3 points, 4.4 boards and 1.2 assists in 145 games with the Hornets. New Orleans acquired the lefty from the Milwaukee Bucks on October 26, 2005.
After two years with the Hornets, Mason signed with the Bucks as a free agent in the summer of 2007.
3. J.R. Smith
The Hornets drafted J.R. Smith out of high school in 2004. In 131 games with New Orleans, Smith averaged 9.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He shot 39.4 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from beyond the arc.
In the summer of 2006, the Hornets traded Smith to the Chicago Bulls, who then dealt the shooting guard to the Denver Nuggets.
J.R. won the 2016 title with the Cleveland Cavaliers and he currently plays for the Lakers.
4. Jamal Mashburn
In the summer of 2000, the Miami Heat traded Jamal Mashburn to the Hornets. The talented scorer averaged 21.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists with New Orleans in 101 games. He also shot 41.6 percent from the field, 37.0 percent from beyond the arc and 84.2 percent from the free-throw line.
At the 2005 trade deadline, the Hornets decided to trade Mashburn to the Philadelphia 76ers.
5. Trevor Ariza
Before the start of the 2010-11 season, the Houston Rockets traded Trevor Ariza to the Hornets. The swingman played in 116 games in New Orleans and compiled averages of 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Ariza also shot 40.4 percent overall, 31.0 percent from the 3-point line and 72.6 percent from the charity stripe.
In June of 2012, the Hornets sent Ariza to the Washington Wizards.