Charlotte Hornets: 15 greatest scorers of all-time

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/ NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/ NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Hornets
(Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /
  • 14.0 PPG, 4,630 points, 5 seasons
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (2005)
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2005)
  • 50.6 career field goal percentage w/Bobcats
  • 330 career games, 326 career starts w/Bobcats

Emeka Okafor is one of the greatest players in UConn Huskies men’s basketball history. He was the best player on the 2004 National Championship team that beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The elite frontcourt prospect became the Bobcats’ first-ever draft pick, as Charlotte took him No. 2 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft.

Okafor spent his first five NBA seasons playing for the Bobcats from 2004 to 2009. However, playing for an expansion team definitely took its toll on the talented big man out of UConn. While he made the NBA All-Rookie First Team and won NBA Rookie of the Year in 2005, he never eclipsed his 15.1 points per game mark again.

He played and started in 73 games that first year in Charlotte. Okafor shot 44.7 percent from the field and gathered 10.9 rebounds per game. Though he might have been a double-double machine in his five years with the Bobcats, averaging 14.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, it didn’t exactly translate to winning.

Okafor never played in a playoff game in his five years in the Queen City. During that stretch, he amassed 4,630 career points in Bobcats uniform in 330 games, starting 326 of them. He might have shot slightly better than 50 percent from the floor (50.6), but never took his scoring abilities outside of the paint.

His consistent, but limited offensive abilities ultimately led the Bobcats to trade their initial franchise cornerstone to New Orleans in exchange for arguably a better defensive presence in center Tyson Chandler. While Okafor played three seasons with the Hornets, all of those were in the Big Easy.

Okafor did finally taste the NBA playoffs with the Hornets, but never got past the second round in the Western Conference. He played briefly with the Washington Wizards in 2012-13 before a neck injury derailed his NBA career for four seasons.

Okafor returned to the NBA just last season, this time with the New Orleans Pelicans. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers this past summer, but was waived before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season.

Could Okafor have another season or two left in the tank in the NBA? Maybe, but he will be best remembered as being the defensive anchor and occasional low-post scorer for the expansion Bobcats. Odds are if he would have played on a non-expansion team in Charlotte, he’d be higher up on this list and a more complete player.