The Charlotte Hornets have featured many talented point guards over the years. Baron Davis is certainly one of them, though it seems he is often overlooked.
While many Charlotte Hornets fans are aware of star guards like Kemba Walker, or fan-favorites like Muggsy Bogues, guys like Baron Davis aren’t necessarily on the tip of one’s tongue when it comes to Hornet greats.
Sure, if you ask the more die-hard fans, they’ll eventually mention him after naming off more notable names, but it seems Baron is always the eighth or ninth guy down and that’s a shame because he really was an electrifying player.
Drafted third overall by the Hornets in the 1999 NBA Draft, Davis was a versatile player coming out of UCLA. His tenure in college was a bit tumultuous due to some controversy surrounding a car gifted to him by his sister. On top of that, he suffered an ACL injury during his sophomore season, giving many NBA scouts worries about his ability at the next level.
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He would persevere, however, enough to the point where he would declare for the NBA Draft after just his second season in college. That draft was loaded with future NBA stars, with names like Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Steve Francis, and Shawn Marion, and Davis, of course, all becoming prominent players for the next decade or more.
At first, Davis didn’t exactly live up to the hype that a third overall pick warranted. Backing up stalwarts like Eddie Jones and David Wesley, Baron only saw 18 minutes of action a game but played all 82 games for a Hornets team that was ready to make some noise in the post-Michael Jordan Eastern Conference.
His second season saw him starting all 82 games, with his minutes doubling, his points, assists, and rebounds all increasing dramatically. The Hornets would make the playoffs for the second-straight year and Davis showed off, scoring 18 points and 6 assists while shooting 40% from three. Davis had officially blossomed into one of the better scoring guards in the NBA.
His third and final year in the Queen City would see one of the best of his career, with Davis averaging 18 points, almost 9 assists, and playing 41 minutes a contest. It would result in his first All-Star appearance.
As many Hornets fans know, the team was then moved to New Orleans after that, but Davis still played well. In three seasons in the Big Easy, he averaged 20 points and 7 dimes a game while shooting 40% over his career there.
Baron’s time with the Hornets would come to an end in February of 2005 when the team would trade him to the Golden State Warriors for a pair of players, citing animosity between Davis and the front office, as well as lingering injuries Davis had sustained over the past few years.
He played well in Golden State, maintaining his 20 and 8 stat line for four seasons in Cali, and alongside guard Jason Richardson, the two formed one of the most athletic and potent scoring duos the team had seen to that point.
He even helped lead the team to a stunning first-round upset over the very heavily favored Dallas Mavericks squad that won 65 games and was the No. 1 seed. It was only the second time in NBA playoff history that a No. 8 seed had defeated a No. 1.
After four seasons in Golden State, Davis would sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, returning to play in his home town of L.A. He played well, but injuries and age were slowly creeping up on him. He would average 15 and 7 in his three years there, but ultimately, he would fall out of favor with management.
He would then finish out his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks, but injuries yet again would keep him from being much of an impact. He would make several attempts to keep playing basketball, most notably playing very briefly in the Drew League, a pro-am league frequented by many an NBA player during downtimes or the off-season.
He would also attempt an NBA comeback, playing for the Delaware 87ers in what was then known as the D-League. He would play a handful of games there before once again, giving it up. He still wasn’t done, however, as he would play in in the Big3 league, a 3-on-3 basketball league founded by rapper, Ice Cube.
Davis ranks 5th all-time in total assists in Charlotte Hornets’ history, as well as ranking third in assists per game. He is seventh in steals and third in steal percentage. This, of course, does include his time as a New Orleans Hornet.
Though his name may not be the first to come to mind when it comes to the greats that have put on a purple and teal jersey, Davis certainly made a case for being one of the best to ever play for the Hornets.
He might have been in Charlotte for just a mere trio of years, but those years were something and if you want to include the team’s time in New Orleans, he’s right up there with some of the greats in Charlotte Hornets history.