Herb Jones #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans blocks a shot from Walker Kessler #24 of the Utah Jazz.

NBA First-Team All-Defense honor puts Herb Jones in unique territory within New Orleans franchise history

Pelicans have been top-10 in defensive efficiency in consecutive seasons for first time ever

Among the various things Herb Jones has accomplished during his brief three-year NBA career, one of the most important feats can only be appreciated within the context of franchise history. On Tuesday, Jones became the fourth New Orleans player in its 22 seasons to claim the prestigious honor of being named NBA First-Team All-Defense, something previously done in the Crescent City by Chris Paul (2008-09), Jrue Holiday (2017-18) and Anthony Davis (also 2017-18).

What makes Jones’ honor a bit more unique compared to that of those former Big Easy performers is something the selfless, Alabama native likely can appreciate: He’s been at the forefront of turning the Pelicans into a consistent, quality defensive team, something that eluded New Orleans for the vast majority of its existence.

Highlights: Herbert Jones Top Defensive Plays from 1st half of 2023-24 NBA season

Prior to Jones being drafted No. 35 overall in 2021, New Orleans had finished between 21st and 23rd in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) in each of the previous three seasons. Even during the 2017-18 campaign when both Holiday and Davis were First-Team All-Defense, the Pelicans were a middle-of-the-road 14th in the advanced statistic. From the franchise’s inaugural season of 2002-03 prior to Jones becoming a second-round draft steal, New Orleans had placed in the top 10 of defensive rating just four times in 19 seasons – and never higher than sixth place.

By comparison, the Pelicans ranked exactly sixth in defense in 2022-23 and 2023-24, the first time the club has ever been a top-10 defensive unit in consecutive years. Jones also reached uncharted territory among New Orleans’ First-Team All-Defense picks for another reason: He claimed the honor in just the third year of his NBA career. Paul’s initial first-team status occurred in Year 4, while Davis’ came in Year 5. Holiday was a nine-year pro when he was selected to the league’s elite defensive squad with New Orleans.

Herb Jones' Top Plays | 2023‑24 NBA Season Highlights