In the history of the New Orleans Pelicans number 23 has been a fun number, a traveler’s number, and now, a star’s number. Number 23 brings back memories of players who have gotten to start their career off in New Orleans, and people who have been looking for a home. The past might not be the greatest for this number, but the present and future is something we should cherish.
The First to Wear 23: J.R. Smith (2004-2006)
The Most Recent to Wear 23: Anthony Davis (2012-Present)
The Number 23’s in Between: Devin Brown (2006-2007, 2008-2010)
The Number 23 started off by giving birth to one of the most entertaining gunners the league currently has to offer. J.R. Smith started his always entertaining NBA career in the Big Easy after being selected 18th overall in the 2004 draft. During his two years in New Orleans, Smith played in 131 out of 164 possible games with the team which included 81 starts and averaged 10.3 and 7.7 points per game in his two seasons. Despite some early promise though Smith was sent to the Chicago Bulls in July of 2006 with P.J. Brown to help the franchise land Tyson Chandler.
After J.R. Smith left in the trade, New Orleans brought in Devin Brown to fill the opening at the shooting guard spot. In his first of what would eventual be three seasons with New Orleans, Brown played in 58 games, while averaging 11.6 points and 4.3 rebounds. After that first season, Brown was let go in free agency where he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After the one year with the Cavaliers, Brown returned to New Orleans, playing the whole 2008-2009 season primarily off the bench and averaging 5.2 points, and 1.9 rebounds. The next season, Brown played 39 games with New Orleans before getting traded to the Chicago Bulls, ending his time with the franchise.
In 2012, New Orleans drafted Anthony Davis, who has shown to be one of the two the brightest spots in New Orleans basketball history to date. In his first season with the team, Davis averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. In his second season, Davis made a leap in his game, averaging 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. His 2.8 blocks per game where best in the league, and he was selected into the NBA All-star game in New Orleans. Davis also posted a 26.5 PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in his second season, which was fourth best in the league.
A bright spot in the franchises history has emerged. The number 23 now has a star wearing it, just like it has for so many other franchises. While the history before Anthony Davis was nothing to brag about, it was fun and helped get New Orleans through its dog days. With Davis stepping into the spotlight of the league, we should all be able to look back on the number 23 in New Orleans history, and smile at what was.