Who is the best scorer in Pelicans franchise history?

David West, New Orleans Hornets. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
David West, New Orleans Hornets. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

With the New Orleans Pelicans not set to play basketball for quite some time (they play their first preseason game on October 10th), we thought we’d use their hiatus to dig into some historical rankings.

And what better subject to tackle than the topic of scoring, because who doesn’t love talking about the facet of the game that ultimately decides winning and losing? So, with that in mind, who is the best scorer in Pelicans (and Hornets) franchise history?

Well, the interesting thing about the word “best” is that it isn’t technically an objective term, meaning that it is open to some interpretation. To keep things simple, though, we will focus on scoring volume.

There are two ways we will measure scoring volume. The first way we will do it is by looking at the top-10 players in points scored as a member of the Pelicans/Hornets. This is what that list looks like:

Top-10 in Points Scored in Pelicans/Hornets History 

1. Anthony Davis – 11,059 points

2. David West – 8,690 points

3. Chris Paul – 7,936 points

4. Jrue Holiday – 7,321 points

5. Brandon Ingram – 5,285 points

6. Ryan Anderson – 3,702 points

7. Eric Gordon – 3,390 points

8. P.J. Brown – 3,231 points

9. Peja Stojakovic – 3,135 points

10. Tyreke Evans – 2,982 points

So, based on sheer volume of points scored, Anthony Davis would be the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, with everyone’s favorite power forward, David West, trailing him by nearly 2,500 points in second place.

However, we can see from looking at this list that relying on sheer volume of points scored can lead to some wonky results. Like, was Ryan Anderson really a better scorer than Zion Williamson during their respective times with the team? I don’t think so. But because Anderson played 230 games as a Pelican/Hornet, while Williamson has only appeared in 114 (so far), he’s been able to accumulate way more points than him (761 more points, to be exact).

So, in order to account for this, let’s look at the top-10 all-time in terms of points per game (to help avoid certain players being ranked higher than others purely because of longevity).

Top-10 in Points Per Game in Pelicans/Hornets History 

1. Zion Williamson – 25.8 PPG

2. Anthony Davis – 23.7 PPG

3. Brandon Ingram – 23.7 PPG

4. CJ McCollum – 21.8 PPG

5. Jamal Mashburn – 21.5 PPG

6. Baron Davis – 20.2 PPG

7. Chris Paul – 18.7 PPG

8. Jrue Holiday – 17.6 PPG

9. David West – 16.4 PPG

10. Ryan Anderson – 16.1 PPG

Ah, now that’s a little more like it. It’s still not perfect – using raw PPG biases toward modern players (because of the increase in pace and efficiency over time) – but we have a more accurate list of all-time scorers than we did when we used just raw points.

Based on this list, it looks like Williamson owns the title of best scorer in franchise history, as he’s averaged 25.8 PPG during his career as a member of the Pelicans. And you know what, I tend to agree with that sentiment. I think, when he’s healthy, Williamson is the greatest scorer in franchise history.

Now, it is just a matter of making sure he can stay healthy long enough to climb up the all-time points scored leaderboard too.

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