So far the history of one player numbers in New Orleans Pelicans history isn’t exactly good. Out of the four single person numbers to have been covered so far Peja Stojakovic‘s number 16 has been by far the best in the group despite multiple injury marred seasons, which says more about Al-Farouq Aminu, Solomon Jones and DJ Mbenga than it does about Peja. That all finally changes though with the number 30, one that very well could be retired some day once the player who wore it in New Orleans finally retires.
The First to Wear Number 30: David West, 2003-2011
The Most Recent to Wear Number 30: David West, 2003-2011
The Number 30′s in Between: None
When David West arrived in New Orleans with the Hornets for the 2003-2004 season no one really knew what to expect. West had a long history of being productive during college at Xavier when he won the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award as a sophomore, junior and senior and the AP Player of the Year award as a senior as well. Despite all of that there were tons of questions about how West’s game would translate since he didn’t possess incredible quickness or explosiveness to make up for his lack of typical height.
In his first two years in New Orleans things didn’t look good for West who played less than 1,000 minutes in each season or averaging over 6.2 points per game. Things all changed in the 2005-2006 seasons though as West exploded into stardom, finishing second in voting for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award after averaging 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while knocking down three game-winning jumpers throughout the season, starting a legacy that fans in New Orleans will remember forever for the number 30.
After injuries kept West to just 52 games the next season he rebounded to with the two best seasons of his career in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 and he was rewarded with All-Star appearances in both years. In 2007-2008 West averaged 20.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists for a Hornets team that reached the seventh game of the Western Conference semifinals before losing to the San Antonio Spurs. The next year West upped that scoring average to 21 points per game to go along with 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists for another playoff bound Hornets squad.
Unfortunately for West and the Hornets that 2008-2009 season would be the last time he suited up for the team in the playoffs as he torn his ACL after landing awkwardly on a dunk in the final game of the 2010-2011 season. With West missing the Hornets couldn’t get over the hump against the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs despite the heroics of Chris Paul, leaving fans with one of the bigger what-ifs in franchise history.
Sadly, the injury would also mark the final time that West would suit up for the Hornets as he decided to move on from the team after they traded Chris Paul and he signed with the Indiana Pacers. Despite the sad way things ended for West it seems likely that he one day will see his number 30 enshrined in the rafters if the Pelicans decide to honor players who played with the franchise in New Orleans instead of just those who played in Pelicans uniforms. Outside of Chris Paul and Pete Maravich perhaps no player has been as important to basketball in New Orleans as the rough and tumble, hard-working West, it only seems like a matter of time before he gets honored as such.