COMMENTARY | For a city that doesn't have one of the richest traditions of professional basketball, New Orleans has had a number of outstanding guards. Although the Buccaneers, Jazz, and Hornets have combined for fewer than 20 years of pro basketball in New Orleans, all three of those teams each produced one of the best guards of their respective leagues and eras.
The latest outstanding guard to play in New Orleans is Greivis Vasquez. In his first year as a full-time starter, Vasquez leads the NBA in assists and ranks third in assists per game. Vasquez also leads the NBA in double-doubles among guards and he even recorded a triple-double. The NBA recognized Vasquez's excellence by naming him its Western Conference Player of the Week early in the 2012-13 season.
Still, the unquestioned greatest New Orleans guard among Hornets is Chris Paul. In addition to producing even better numbers than Greivis Vasquez, Paul also turned around an 18-64 team in 2004-05 into the 56-26 Southwest Division champions in 2007-08. Chris Paul led the Hornets to the NBA Playoffs three times and he was a four-time All-Star while playing in New Orleans.
With apologies to the Chris Paul fans in New Orleans, "Pistol" Pete Maravich is the greatest guard ever to play in the city. Maravich exemplified the artistry of basketball and his highlights are still among the most amazing in NBA history. In addition to being named one of the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History," Maravich was a three-time All-Star in New Orleans and is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, another New Orleans guard was one of his league's best even before Pete Maravich. Jimmy Jones was a dual-threat point guard for three years with the very successful New Orleans Buccaneers of the ABA. From 1967-70, Jones averaged 22.1 points and 4.2 assists per game for the Buccaneers. Jones also once led the ABA in FG percentage, which is incredible for a guard, and he was an All-Star each year he played in New Orleans.
The other New Orleans guard among the all-time greats is Baron Davis. In his two full seasons in New Orleans, Davis led the Hornets to the NBA Playoffs both years. Davis was never as prolific with assists as Greivis Vasquez or Chris Paul, but he was selected to play in the 2004 NBA All-Star game while playing in New Orleans.
Here is the ranking for the greatest guards who played professionally in New Orleans.
5. Baron Davis (2002-05)
4. Greivis Vasquez (2011-present)
3. Jimmy Jones (1968-70)
2. Chris Paul (2005-11)
1. Pete Maravich (1974-79)
It's hard to imagine Greivis Vasquez becoming a better scorer if the Hornets put better players around him. However, this should improve his already impressive assist numbers. Better talent and more experience should also lower his turnovers when the Hornets become the Pelicans. Defensively, he will probably never approach Chris Paul's steal numbers. But in a city with a great tradition of guards, Greivis Vasquez is now among New Orleans' all-time greats.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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- Greivis Vasquez
- New Orleans
- Chris Paul
- Pete Maravich