A week ago the Pelicans were looking at another year of mediocrity. They were a bunch of games back from the 8th seed in the Western Conference, but not bad enough to be in the rebuilding phase. They were thinking of trading Jrue Holiday, their 26 year old point guard. They didn’t have much of future as a borderline playoff team. But then they went out and traded Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and two draft picks for Omri Casspi and Demarcus Cousins. The move pairs Cousins, fourth in NBA in scoring this season, with Anthony Davis, who is fifth in scoring this year. Since 2012, the player with the most 30 point 15 rebound games was Demarcus Cousins (with 26) and you know who was second — Anthony Davis (with 18). With these two power-players the Pelicans now have two of the three players averaging over 25 points and 10 rebounds this season.(the other- Russell Westbrook). It is really rare that a player with Cousins’ stats is being traded at this point in the year and now with him the Pelicans have their big three (Jrue Holiday included).
So now what remains to be seen is how well they can play together with Alvin Gentry’s uptempo, small-ball ideology. Cousins is capable of playing fast- his Kings led the the NBA in pace last season, and finished in the league’s top 10 in three other seasons. But, this year he has held the ball longer (per touch) than any other Center in the league (2.34 seconds) and this year the Kings have the fourth slowest pace in the NBA. Can he Cousins shift his focus to last year’s style of ball? Another major concern is that Cousins has had poor hustle habits, especially when frustrated.
His temper tantrums (see above) and love of arguing with officials has taken away from his and the Kings’ defense and team as a whole. He has been suspended a game already for raking up 19 technical fouls! I trust that the Pelicans and Gentry will figure it out, but it will be really interesting watching Biggie and The Brow. The questions remains how soon or whether they will compliment each other and how the Pellies will jell as a team. Can they reach beyond the mediocrity that has been a symbol of their franchise since day one? Can the twin towers wreck havoc on the rest of the league? Can Jrue Holiday step up as the All Star point guard he needs to be? One thing is clear, New Orleans can’t afford suspensions- as of today the Pelicans are a close 2.5 games back from the 8th seed and with 25 games left in the season. It seems likely they will sneak into the playoffs, taking the 8th. But, can they take the 7th seed from the Thunder at 9.5 games behind and if not can they take the star-studded Warriors in round 1?